Women are better survivors than men


We all know that women are the supreme reigning life expectancy champs in nearly every country in the world (although chubby dads in the U.S. live a pretty long time).

Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark looked at historical data on death rates for both women and men who endured famines - like the Irish potato starvation, the Ukraine starvation and the Swedish starvation - along with disease outbreaks and found that women outlived men nearly every time.

Scientists at the University of Southern Denmark looked at seven periods in history where "mortality shocks" occurred and large swathes of the population were wiped out by disasters. "Among them were working and former slaves in Trinidad and the United States in the early 1800s, starvation victims in Sweden, Ireland and Ukraine in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, and Icelanders affected by the 1846 and 1882 measles epidemics", Duke University mentioned in their report.

And it's a trend that's reflected across the world, in nearly all countries.

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For all populations, far more women also lived to extreme old age than men.

But to analyse how resilient the sexes are, researchers focused on births and deaths records over the course of the historical events.

The researchers found that, in all the populations, women had lower mortality across nearly all ages, and with one exception, women lived longer on average than men.

The authors hypothesize the survival rate of young adult male Trinidadian slaves exceeded that of young women because they held a higher economic value, placing a premium on their lives. In times of adversity, newborn girls are more likely to survive.

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Overall the researchers discovered that, even when mortality was very high for both sexes, women still lived longer than men by six months to nearly four years on average.

The fact that women have an edge in infancy, when behavioural differences between the sexes are minimal, supports the idea that explanation is at least partly biological, they said.

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"Even in Liberia, the population with the lowest life expectancy, newborn girls were hardier than newborn boys", they continued.

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Life expectancy for baby boys was 1.68 years, compared to 2.23 years for infant girls. At the height of the starvation, this dropped to 18.17 for men - but was still a bit longer, at 22.4, for women.