Why do women have longer lives than men? - Chiloé Austral
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Why do women have longer lives 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. What is the reason women live longer than men, and why does this benefit increase in the past? The evidence isn’t conclusive and we’re only able to provide some answers. Although we know that there are behavioral, biological and environmental factors that all play a role in the longevity of women over males, we aren’t sure what percentage each factor plays in.

In spite of how much number of pounds, we know that at a minimum, the reason women live so much longer than men and not in the past, has to do with the fact that several key 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. There are others 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 line of parity diagonally. This implies that a baby girl in all countries can be expected to live for longer than her brothers.

This graph shows that even though women enjoy an advantage throughout the world, the differences between countries are often significant. In Russia women live 10 years longer than men. In Bhutan the difference is just half an hour.



The advantage women had in life expectancy was much lower in developed countries as compared to the present.

Let’s examine how the female advantage in longevity has changed with time. The following chart shows the male and female lifespans at birth in the US between 1790 and 2014. Two areas stand out.

First, there is an upward trend. Women and men in the United States live longer than they used to a century ago. This is in line with historical increases in life expectancy everywhere in the world.

The gap is growing: Although the female advantage in life expectancy was quite small It has significantly increased over time.

You can check if these principles are also applicable to other countries with data by clicking the «Change country» option in the chart. This includes the UK, France, and Sweden.

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