Monday, December 5th, 2022

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. Why do women live so longer than men and why have these advantages gotten bigger over time? The evidence is limited and we only have some answers. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women have longer lives than men, however, we aren’t sure how significant the impact of each one of these factors is.

We know that women live longer than men, regardless of their weight. However this is not due to the fact that certain 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, Glorynote.Com/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%86%D8%B2%D9%84/ 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. We can see that every country is above the diagonal parity line , which means that in every country that a baby girl can be expected to live longer than a new boy.1

The chart below 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 males. In Bhutan there is a difference of just half a year.



The female advantage in life expectancy was less in countries with higher incomes that it is today.

Let’s examine how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The chart below illustrates the male and female life expectancies at the time of birth in the US in the years 1790 to 2014. Two distinct points stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Men and women in the US are living much, much longer today than a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The second is that there is an ever-widening gap: female advantage in terms of life expectancy used to be extremely small, but it grew substantially in the past century.

If you select the option “Change country by country’ in the chart, you will be able to verify that these two points are also applicable to the other countries with available information: Sweden, France and the UK.

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