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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 in the present and why is this difference growing over time? We only have partial evidence and the evidence isn’t sufficient to draw an informed conclusion. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women live longer than men; However, we’re not sure what the contribution of each one of these factors is.

In spite of the precise amount, we can say that at least part of the reason why women live so much longer than men in the present but not in the past, is to be due to the fact that certain significant non-biological elements have changed. These are the factors that are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Certain are more complicated. 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. We can see that every country is above the diagonal parity line — it means that in all nations baby girls can expect to live longer than a new boy.1

This chart is interesting in that it shows that, while the advantage for women exists across all countries, the global differences are significant. In Russia women live 10 years longer than males; while in Bhutan the gap is less than half a year.



In rich countries the female advantage in longevity was previously smaller.

Let’s examine how the gender advantage in longevity has changed with time. The following chart shows the male and female life expectancy when they were born in the US between 1790-2014. Two distinct features stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Both men and العاب زوجية women in the US live a lot, much longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is getting wider: Although the female advantage in terms of life expectancy was very small but it has risen significantly over time.

By selecting ‘Change Country in the chart, العاب زوجية you can verify that these two points apply to the other countries having available information: Sweden, France and the UK.


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