Why women are more likely to live longer 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. Why do women live more than men do today and why is this difference growing over time? The evidence isn’t conclusive and we only have incomplete answers. We know that behavioral, biological and environmental factors contribute to the fact that women live longer than men; however, we aren’t sure how strong the relative contribution to each of these variables is.

We have learned that women live longer than males, regardless of weight. But this isn’t because of certain biological or non-biological factors have changed. What are these factors that have changed? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Others 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 all countries are over the diagonal line of parity. This implies that a baby girl from every country could be expected to live for longer than her younger brother.

The chart above shows that while the female advantage is present everywhere, cross-country differences are large. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan the gap is just half one year.

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The female advantage in life expectancy was smaller in rich countries as compared to the present.

Let’s look at how the advantage of women in longevity has changed with time. The chart below illustrates the male and female life expectancies at the birth in the US between 1790 to 2014. Two specific points stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. and women in the US live a lot, Musclesociety.com/index.php/blog/61957/why-women-are-more-likely-to-live-longer-than-men/ much longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

And second, there is an increasing gap: The female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be extremely small however, it has increased significantly during the last century.

By selecting ‘Change Country from the chart, you are able to confirm that the two points are applicable to the other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.