Why women are more likely to 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 is the reason women live longer than men in the present, and why does this benefit increase over time? We only have partial evidence and the evidence isn’t sufficient to support an unambiguous conclusion. Although we know that there are behavioral, biological and environmental variables that all play a role in women who live longer than men, we don’t know the extent to which each factor plays a role.

It is known that women are living longer than men, regardless of their weight. But this isn’t due to the fact that certain biological factors have changed. These factors are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Others 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. As we can see, every country is above the diagonal line of parity – which means that in every country baby girls can expect to live longer than a new boy.1

This graph shows that although women have an advantage across all countries, differences between countries can be substantial. In Russia, women live for 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan there is a difference of less than half a calendar year.

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The advantage women had in terms of life expectancy was lower in rich countries as compared to the present.

Let’s now look at how the advantage of women in longevity has changed with time. The following chart shows the male and female life expectancy when they were born in the US during the period 1790 to 2014. Two aspects stand out.

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

There is an increase in the gap between men and women: female advantage in life expectancy used be extremely small but it increased substantially in the past century.

It is possible to verify that these points are also applicable to other countries with data by clicking on the “Change country” option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, افضل شامبو وبلسم and Sweden.

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