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 why women live longer than men? And why is this difference growing over time? We have only a small amount of evidence and the evidence is not sufficient to support an informed conclusion. We are aware that behavioral, biological and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women have longer lives than men, however, we aren’t sure how significant the impact of each one of these factors is.
It is known that women are living longer than males, regardless of weight. However this isn’t because of certain biological or non-biological factors have changed. These variables are evolving. 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 – it means that in all nations the newborn girl is likely to live longer than a newborn boy.1
This chart illustrates that, even though women enjoy an advantage throughout the world, the differences between countries could be significant. In Russia, women live for 10 years longer than males. In Bhutan, the difference is only half a year.
In wealthy countries, the women’s advantage in longevity used to be smaller
Let’s look at how the female advantage in terms of longevity has changed over time. The next chart compares male and female life expectancy when they were born in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two areas stand out.
First, there’s an upward trend. Men as well as women in the US are living much, much longer than they did 100 years ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.
There is an increasing gap: The female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be very small but it increased substantially during the last century.
It is possible to verify that 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 https://www.datasciencefaqs.com/index.php/Why_Do_Women_Live_Longer_Than_Men Sweden.