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 makes women live more than men do today and how does this benefit increase over time? There isn’t much evidence and we’re left with only incomplete solutions. We know that behavioral, biological and environmental factors all play a role in the fact that women live longer than men; but we don’t know exactly how significant the impact of each of these factors is.

We are aware that women are living longer than men, regardless of their weight. However this is not due to the fact that certain 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. As you can see, every country is above the diagonal parity line ; which means that in every country the newborn girl is likely to live longer than a new boy.1

This chart is interesting in that it shows that, while the advantage for women is present everywhere, cross-country differences are large. In Russia, women live 10 years more than males. In Bhutan there is a difference of less that half a year.



The advantage for women in life expectancy was much lower in developed countries that it is today.

Let’s examine how the female advantage in life expectancy has changed over time. The chart below shows male and female life expectancies at the birth in the US between 1790 to 2014. Two areas stand out.

The first is that there is an upward trend. Both genders in America live longer than they did a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is increasing: https://sworld.skoleom.com/groups/why-women-live-longer-than-men-1505809059/ (https://maps.google.sk/)/ (https://maps.google.sk/) While the advantage of women in terms of life expectancy was very small It has significantly increased over time.

When you click on the option “Change country’ on the chart, you can verify that these two points also apply to the other countries with available data: Sweden, France and the UK.


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