Why do women have longer lives than men?

15.01.2022

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 live longer than men? And why the advantage has grown as time passes? There is only limited evidence and the evidence is not strong enough to make a definitive conclusion. We know that biological, behavioral and environmental factors contribute to the fact that women live longer than men; however, we do not know how strong the relative contribution of each one of these factors is.

It is known that women are living longer than men, regardless of their weight. However this isn’t because of certain non-biological factors have changed. What are these changing factors? 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 افضل كريم للشعر women. As we can see, all countries are above the diagonal parity line ; this means that in all countries baby girls can expect to live longer than a new boy.1

The chart above shows that the advantage of women is present everywhere, global differences are significant. In Russia, women live for 10 years longer than males. In Bhutan, the difference is less that half a year.

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

Let’s now look at how the female advantage in longevity has changed with time. The next chart shows male and female life expectancy when they were born in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two specific points stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Women and men living in America are living longer than they used to a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

And second, there is an ever-widening gap: female advantage in life expectancy used to be extremely small however, it has increased significantly in the past century.

If you select the option «Change country from the chart, you are able to check that these two points are applicable to other countries that have available information: Sweden, France and the UK.