SHEFFIELD, England, April 7 (UPI) -- Primarily due to improved medical care before and during childbirth, women around the world have longer life expectancies than men.
In the West, women have outlived men for more than a century. In England and Wales, life expectancy for women exceeded that of men in 1841, the Independent reported.
But in the developing world, women have been held back by the high risk of bearing children. Zimbabwe is one of the few countries where men still live longer. The average age for men at death is 40, whereas for women it is only 38.
"The reason for the increase in female life expectancy has got to be improvements in care during pregnancy and the presence of a midwife or other skilled attendant at birth," wrote Danny Dorling, a professor at the University of Sheffield, in the British Medical Journal.
But Dorling warns the gender gap is narrowing, as women have become more emancipated and adopted other lifestyles. Smoking is the main reason why it is now narrowing again, he said.
Among centenarians worldwide, women outnumber males nine to one, the Independent reported.