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 does this benefit increase over time? There isn’t much evidence and we only have some answers. We know there are biological, behavioral, and environmental factors which all play a part in the longevity of women over men, we don’t know how much each one contributes.
In spite of the weight, we know that at a minimum, the reason why women live so much longer than men in the present, but not previously, has to have to do with the fact that a number of key non-biological factors have changed. What are these new factors? 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. As you can see, all countries are above the diagonal line of parity – this means that in all countries a newborn girl can expect to live longer than a new boy.1
This chart illustrates that, although women have an advantage in all countries, the differences across countries are often significant. In Russia, women live for 10 years longer than males. In Bhutan the difference is only half a year.
In rich countries the women’s advantage in longevity was smaller
Let’s look at how the gender advantage in longevity has changed with time. The next chart plots male and female life expectancies when they were born in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two points stand out.
The first is that there is an upward trend: Men and women in the US have a much longer life span longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.
Second, the gap is growing: Although the advantage of women in life expectancy was once very small however, it has grown significantly over time.
Using the option ‘Change country in the chart, confirm that the two points also apply to the other countries with available data: Sweden, France and كيفية إقامة علاقة بالصور the UK.