Our previous infographic visualized gender ratio, we found that there are more women than men in higher age groups although there are slightly more men than women at birth. In other words, women are likely to live longer than men across the globe. The infographic above visualizes gender gap in life expectancy by country. Let’s find out: which countries have a higher/lower gender gap in life expectancy?
Global Average Life Expectancy Is 73
According to the 2020 WHO data, the global average of life expectancy for both sex is 73. Overall, Japan has the longest life expectancy of 84.26, while Lesotho has the shortest life expectancy of 50.75.
By gender, global average life expectancy for men is 71, while that for women is 76. To be more precise, women outlive men by 4.86 years on average. Switzerland has the longest life expectancy for men at 81.75, while Lesotho has the shortest life expectancy for men at 47.66. Meanwhile, women in Japan may live for 86.94 years, while women in Lesotho may live only for 54.24 years.
The tables below display the 5 countries with the longest and shortest life expectancies.
Top 5 Countries with the Longest Life Expectancy
|Republic of Korea||83.3||86.09||80.32|
Bottom 5 Countries with the Shortest Life Expectancy
|Central African Republic||53.1||56.26||50.21|
From the tables, it seems to be almost always the case that women live longer than men anywhere in the world. So, in which countries gender gap in life expectancy widest or narrowest?
Men Outlive Women Only in Two Countries
Before looking into gender gap in life expectancy, it is important to draw attention to biological mechanisms that partially determine longevity. Men and women are biologically different; biological differences are believed to contribute women’s longer and healthier life.
According to an article on Oxford Academic International Health, men are naturally programmed to die earlier than women at the very moment of conception. In addition to this male disadvantage in life expectancy at birth, male-specific genetic disorders due to the lack of double X chromosomes may be responsible for men’s shorter life expectancy. Besides, the female sex hormones and the stronger immune system of females arguably contribute women’s longer life expectancy. These are some examples of the biological factors that could contribute to gender gap in life expectancy.
In reality, behavioral and social factors may also play a role in determining life expectancy. Gender gap may exist in such factors as drinking and smoking habits and exposure to work-related stresses, which may result in gender gap in life expectancy.
Regardless of the tendency for women to outlive men, however, the WHO data reveals that there are two countries where men outlive women: Qatar and Afghanistan. Among the 183 countries in the data, Qatar and Afghanistan have longer life expectancy for men than for women. In Qatar, men typically live to 78.03 years, while women live to 76.63. In Afghanistan, men’s life expectancy is 63.29, while women’s life expectancy is 63.16.
It is fair to exclude these two countries from gender gap comparison because women consistently live longer than men in the rest of the 183 countries.
Belarus Has the Widest Gender Gap
As the infographic shows, the 10 countries with the largest gap are: Belarus, Eswatini, Russian Federation, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Mongolia, El Salvador, and Viet Nam. Interestingly, 6 out of the 10 are former Soviet Union (Belarus, Russian Federation, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, and Georgia). One in Africa, one in Central America, and two in Asia.
The widest gap was 9.97 years in Belarus where men typically live to 69.65 years, while women typically live to 79.62 years. Eswatini and Russian Federation follow Belarus with a gap of 9.82.
Mauritania Has the Smallest Gender Gap
The 10 countries with the narrowest gender gap are: Mauritania, Mali, Haiti, Jordan, Congo, Liberia, Algeria, Brunei Darussalam, Bahrain, and Bolivia. Half of them are African countries, two are the Middle Eastern, one each are South American, Caribbean, and Asian.
Mauritania’s gender gap in life expectancy is almost non-existent: only 0.65 years. The country is the only country where the gap is less than 1 year. Mali had the second narrowest gap at 1.2, followed by Haiti at 1.42 years.
According to the World Economic Forum, the gender gap is the difference between women and men as reflected in social, political, intellectual, cultural, or economic attainments or attitudes. When it comes to life expectancy, however, biological differences—sex rather than gender—should be considered. Evidence indicates that biological factors such as hormones and genes may contribute to longevity. In fact, women outlive men in almost every country.
On average, women outlive men by about 5 years. Belarus has the widest gender gap in life expectancy: 9.97 years. In contrast, Mauritania has the narrowest gap: 0.65 years. In Qatar and Afghanistan, men typically outlive women.