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 women have a longer life span than men? And why the advantage has grown in the past? There is only limited evidence and the evidence isn’t sufficient to draw an absolute conclusion. We recognize that biological, behavioral and environmental factors play a role in the fact that women live longer than men; However, we’re not sure what the contribution to each of these variables is.
We know that women are living longer than males, regardless of weight. However this is not because of certain non-biological factors have changed. The factors changing are numerous. 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 all countries are above the diagonal parity line ; which means that in every country that a baby girl can be expected to live for longer than a new boy.1
This chart is interesting in that it shows that although the female advantage is present everywhere, cross-country differences are large. In Russia, women live 10 years more than men. In Bhutan the difference is only half a year.
In wealthy countries, the advantage of women in longevity was smaller
Let’s examine how the female longevity advantage has changed in the course of time. The chart below illustrates the male and female life expectancies at the birth in the US in the years 1790 to 2014. Two distinct points stand out.
First, there is an upward trend. Both men and women in the US have a much longer life span longer today than a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.
Second, the gap is widening: While the female advantage in terms of life expectancy was very small, it has increased substantially with time.
You can verify that these principles 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://racingmall.net/members/3108/ – Highly recommended Webpage,/ – Highly recommended Webpage, Sweden.