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 does this benefit increase over time? We only have partial evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to support a definitive conclusion. We know there are biological, behavioral, and environmental factors that play an integral role in women living longer than men, we do not know what percentage each factor plays in.
In spite of the weight, Hpm.kiev.ua/index.php?option=com_k2&view=itemlist&task=user&id=23378; http://abbeyfield.at/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=hpm.kiev.ua%2Findex.php%3Foption%3Dcom_k2%26view%3Ditemlist%26task%3Duser%26id%3D23378, we know that at a minimum, the reason women live longer than men do today but not previously, has to have to do with the fact that certain fundamental non-biological factors have changed. These are the factors that are changing. Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. Some are more complex. 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 every country is above the diagonal parity line — this means that in all countries that a baby girl can be expected to live longer than a new boy.1
The chart below shows that although women have an advantage everywhere, cross-country differences could be significant. In Russia, women live 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan there is a difference of just half a year.
The advantage of women in terms of life expectancy was lower in rich countries than it is today.
Let’s take a look at how the female longevity advantage has changed over time. The chart below illustrates the male and female life expectancies when they were born in the US during the period 1790 to 2014. Two specific points stand out.
The first is that there is an upward trend. Men and women in America have longer lives than they were a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.
There is an ever-widening gap: female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be very small however it increased dramatically over the course of the last century.
You can check if these points are also applicable to other countries that have data by clicking on the «Change country» option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.