Why are women living 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 much longer than men today, and why is this difference growing over time? We have only a small amount of evidence and the evidence isn’t sufficient to support an absolute conclusion. While we are aware that there are biological, behavioral as well as environmental factors which all play a part in the longevity of women over men, we don’t know how much each one contributes.

It is known that women live longer than men, regardless of their weight. But this isn’t because of certain biological or non-biological factors have changed. What are these new factors? Some are well known and Www.freakyexhibits.net/index.php/User:JeromeGlasgow92 (nmblibrary.net) 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. As we can see, all countries are above the diagonal line of parity – which means that in every country a newborn girl can expect to live for longer than a new boy.1

The chart below shows that while there is a female advantage in all countries, the differences across countries are often significant. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men; in Bhutan the gap is less than half one year.



In countries with high incomes, the women’s advantage in longevity was previously smaller.

Let’s now look at how the gender advantage in terms of longevity has changed over time. The chart below illustrates the male and female life expectancies at the birth in the US during the period 1790 to 2014. Two points stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Both genders living in America are living longer than they used to 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

Second, there’s a widening gap: The female advantage in terms of life expectancy used to be very modest but it increased substantially over the course of the last century.

You can confirm that these principles are also applicable to other countries that have data by selecting the “Change country” option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.

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