Why are women living longer than men?

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 much longer than men today and how does this benefit increase in the past? The evidence isn’t conclusive and we’re left with only incomplete solutions. We know there are biological, psychological as well as environmental factors which all play a part in women living longer than men, we don’t know the extent to which each factor plays a role.

We have learned that women live longer than males, regardless of weight. However, this is not because of certain 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. Other 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. We can see that all countries are above the diagonal parity line , it means that in all nations 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 in all countries, the differences across countries are often significant. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan the difference is just half a year.



The advantage women had in life expectancy was less in rich countries that it is today.

Let’s look at how the advantage of women in terms of longevity has changed over time. The following chart shows the male and female lifespans when they were born in the US during the time period between 1790 and 2014. Two aspects stand out.

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

The second is that there is an ever-widening gap: العاب زوجية female advantage in terms of life expectancy used be very small however it increased dramatically in the past century.

When you click on the option “Change country from the chart, confirm that the two points are applicable to other countries that have available data: Sweden, France and the UK.