The Weaker Sex

Is the distribution of health unjust? See our last post. This is from a paper by Princeton historian, Angus Deaton:

Men die at higher rates than women at all ages after conception. Although women around the world report higher morbidity [= sickness] than men, their mortality [= death] rates are usually around half of those of men. … Women get sick and men get dead. … Biology cannot be the whole explanation. The female advantage in life expectancy in the US is now smaller than for many years, 5.3 years in 2008 compared with 7.8 years in 1979, and it has been argued that there was little or no differential in the preindustrial world. The contemporary decline in female advantage is largely driven by cigarette smoking; women were slower to start smoking than men, and have been slower to quit.

HT to Robin Hanson, with commentary here.

Comments (5)

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  1. Buster says:

    That reminds me of the old saying… “Why do men preceed their wives in death?” “Because they want to!”

  2. Bruce says:

    Women are obviously not the weaker sex.

  3. Virginia says:

    I’m not sure either position is favorable. How about healthy and long-lived? That would be nice.

  4. Brian says:

    Of the population that suffers from alcoholism, I am curious as to which sex recovers faster and which sex relapses more.
    I have a theory.

  5. John R. Graham says:

    I had always read that it was violence that made males of many mammal species shorter lived, in aggregate, than females.

    With respect to high-income earners’ life expectancy stretching out in the mid-19th century, this is surely due to innovation. Before then, the rich lived the same unsanitary, dirty, lives as everyone else. This changed in the 19th century, and eventually good sanitation reached into the masses, who caught up in life expectancy.

    Nowadays, there’s little difference in conditions of public health between the elites and the masses in developed countries.