Women live about a decade longer than men, and it seems like men might be at fault here. But was it always this way?
Well, no—women’s longevity started outpacing men in a big way around the turn of the twentieth century. And there are a bunch of environmental factors responsible, according to a study in the Proceedings for the National Academy of Science.
Researchers looked at 1,763 birth cohorts from 1800 through 1935 in thirteen developed countries. They looked at mortality in people over forty (which would exclude things like infant mortality and the fact that lots of young men die in accidents and war), tracking specific causes.
After 1880, female death rates decreased 70% faster than male death rates. Also, the divergence happens between the ages of fifty and seventy; there isn’t much difference prior to fifty, and death rates even out after seventy.
As for what’s killing men faster, the big culprit is heart disease. After heart disease, smoking was accountable for 30% of the difference. After that, other cardiovascular disease takes up the slack.