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 why women live longer than men? Why does this benefit increase in the past? The evidence isn’t conclusive and we have only partial answers. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors all play a role in the fact that women live longer than men; but we don’t know exactly what the contribution of each one of these factors is.

It is known that women are living longer than males, regardless of weight. However this isn’t because of certain non-biological aspects have changed. What are these changing factors? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Other 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. It is clear that every country is above the line of parity diagonally. This implies that a baby girl in all countries can be expected to live for longer than her brother.

The chart above shows that, while the advantage for women exists everywhere, the difference between countries is huge. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men, while in Bhutan the gap is just half one year.



In the richer countries, the advantage of women in longevity was smaller

Let’s see how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The chart below shows men and women’s life expectancies at the time of birth in the US during the period 1790 until 2014. Two points stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Women and تزويد لايكات يوتيوب men living in America are living longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The second is that there is an increase in the gap between men and women: female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be very modest but it increased substantially during the last century.

iStock ImageWhen you click on the option “Change country by country’ in the chart, you can confirm that the two points also apply to the other countries having available information: Sweden, France and the UK.

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