Why do women live longer than men?

Everywhere in the world women live longer than men – but this was not always the case. The available data from rich countries shows that women didn’t live longer than men in the 19th century. What’s the reason why women live longer than men? Why the advantage has grown in the past? There isn’t much evidence and we have only some answers. We know there are biological, psychological and environmental variables which all play a part in women who live longer than men, we do not know how much each factor contributes.

In spite of the number of pounds, we know that at a minimum, the reason why women live so much longer than men today and not in the past, has to be due to the fact that a number of key non-biological factors have changed. What are these new factors? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Some are more complex. For example, there is evidence that in rich countries the female advantage increased in part because infectious diseases used to affect women disproportionately a century ago, so advances in medicine that reduced the long-term health burden from infectious diseases, especially for survivors, ended up raising women’s longevity disproportionately.

Everywhere in the world women tend to live longer than men

The first chart below shows life expectancy at birth for men and women. It is clear that every country is over the line of parity diagonally. This implies that a baby girl from any country can be expected to live for longer than her brothers.

The chart above shows that although the female advantage exists across all countries, the difference between countries is huge. In Russia, women live 10 years longer than males. In Bhutan the difference is less than half a calendar year.



In countries with high incomes, the advantage of women in longevity was previously smaller.

Let’s examine how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The chart below shows male and female life expectancy when they were born in the US during the period 1790-2014. Two areas stand out.

There is an upward trend. Men as well as women in the US are living much, much longer than they did a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is widening: While the advantage of women in life expectancy was once quite small, it has increased substantially over time.

You can check if these are applicable to other countries with data by clicking on the “Change country” option in the chart. This includes the UK, Relysys-wiki.com/index.php/User:NoeMontefiore7 France, and Sweden.

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