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 is the reason women live longer than men? Why the advantage has grown in the past? We only have a few clues and the evidence isn’t strong enough to make an unambiguous conclusion. Although we know that there are behavioral, biological and environmental variables which play a significant role in women living longer than men, we do not know how much each factor contributes.
We are aware that women live longer than males, regardless of weight. However this is not due to the fact that certain biological factors have changed. What are these changing factors? Some are well known and relatively straightforward, like the fact that men smoke more often. There are other issues that are more intricate. 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 ; which means that in every country baby girls can expect to live longer than a newborn boy.1
This chart shows that, although women have an advantage throughout the world, the differences between countries can be substantial. In Russia women have an average of 10 years more than men, while in Bhutan the gap is just half a year.
In countries with high incomes, the female advantage in longevity was not as great.
Let’s look at how female longevity advantage has changed over time. The chart below illustrates the men and women’s life expectancies at the birth in the US between 1790 until 2014. Two aspects stand out.
There is an upward trend. as well as women in the US live much, much longer than they did a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.
Second, Theglobalfederation.org/profile.php?id=287647 there’s an increasing gap: The female advantage in life expectancy used to be very modest however, it has increased significantly during the last century.
You can verify that these are applicable to other countries with information by clicking on the “Change country” option on the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.