Monday, December 5th, 2022

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’s the reason women have a longer life span than men? Why has this advantage gotten larger over time? There is only limited evidence and the evidence is not strong enough to make an absolute conclusion. We know there are biological, psychological, and environmental factors that play an integral role in women’s longevity more than males, we aren’t sure the extent to which each factor plays a role.

In spite of the precise weight, we know that a large portion of the reason why women live so much longer than men today but not in the past, has to do with the fact that certain key non-biological factors have changed. These factors are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. There are other issues that are more intricate. 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 above the diagonal line of parity. This implies that a baby girl from every country could anticipate to live longer than her brothers.

This chart illustrates that, although there is a women’s advantage in all countries, the differences across countries can be substantial. In Russia women live for 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan the difference is just half a year.



In rich countries the longevity advantage for women used to be smaller

Let’s look at how female longevity advantage has changed over time. The chart below illustrates the male and female life expectancy when they were born in the US in the years 1790 to 2014. Two areas stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Men and women in the United States live longer than they did a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

\u0634\u0628\u064a\u0643 \u0644\u0628\u064a\u0643: \u0623\u0633\u0631 \u0627\u0644\u0634\u0647\u062f\u0627\u0621 \u0648\u0627\u0644\u0645\u0635\u0627\u0628\u064a\u0646 \u064a\u0637\u0627\u0644\u0628\u0648\u0646 \u0648\u0632\u064a\u0631 \u0627\u0644\u062f\u0641\u0627\u0639 \u0628\u062a\u062e\u0635\u064a\u0635 5% \u0645\u0646 ...And second, there is a widening gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used to be very small however it increased dramatically in the past century.

It is possible to verify that these principles are also applicable to other countries that have data by clicking the “Change country” option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *