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Women have not always lived longer than men. The "mortality gap" is a recent phenomenon.

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Smoking and heart disease are responsible for most excess male deaths in the 20th century:

In every single country on the planet, women live longer than men. In response to this unpleasant fact, men are fond of replying, "That's because we have to put up with women." Humorous though it may be, that's not the actual reason women live longer than men. In fact, it wasn't until the beginning of the 20th Century that the "mortality gap" between men and women became so striking.

To investigate the underlying reason for the gender gap in life expectancy, a team of researchers examined mortality data for people born between 1800 and 1935 in 13 developed countries. Using this data, they were able to determine changes in the male-female mortality ratio, as well as determine when and why women began to outlive men. (See figure.)

Top Reddit comment:

The over 40 sample is great because it eliminates the two biggest gender specific dangers - childbirth and war.

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