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Why Do Women Have a Survival Advantage during a Disaster?

It’s common knowledge that women often live longer than men. And a new study from Denmark and Germany further underscores that fact. Even in the harshest living conditions, including severe famines and uncontrolled epidemics, women still have a survival advantage over men. Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark looked at the death rates during seven catastrophic historical events that occurred between 1772 and 1939. They found that during these times of particular hardship, women outlived men by an average of six months to four years.

When the going gets tough:

  • The study looked at data from events such as the Ireland's Great Famine (1845–1849), measles epidemics in Iceland (1846 and 1882), and slavery in Trinidad at the beginning of the 19th century.
  • During the Great Famine, for example, life expectancy for women dropped to an average of 22.4 years, while for men it plummeted even lower, to 18.7 years. Before the famine struck, the life expectancy for both sexes was about 38 years.
  • Most of the survival advantage that females had during a crisis was linked to infant mortality. The study showed that baby girls survived harsh conditions better than baby boys.

Discussion Comments

By anon999577 — On Feb 05, 2018

The given explanation does not answer the question asked, i.e., why?

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