Research in Progress (RIP): "The Weaker Sex? Vulnerable Men, Resilient Women, and Variations in Sex Differences in Mortality Since 1900"



Date and Time

January 7, 2015 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

FSI Contact

Nicole Feldman

All research in progress seminars are off-the-record. Any information about methodology and/or results are embargoed until publication.

Co-authored with: Mark R. Cullen, Michael Baiocchi, Pooja Loftus, Victor Fuchs


Sex differences in mortality (SDIM) vary over time and place as a function of social and medical conditions. The magnitude of these variations, and their abruptness in response to large socioeconomic changes, suggest that biological differences alone cannot fully account for observed sex differences in survival. We document “stylized facts” about SDIM with which any theory will ultimately have to contend, drawing from a wide swath of available mortality data, including variation in probability of survival to age 70 by county in the United States, to Human Mortality Database data for 18 high-income countries since 1900, to mortality data within and between developing countries over the time periods for which reasonably reliable data are available. We show that, in each of the periods of economic development after the onset of demographic and epidemiologic transition, cross-sectional variation in SDIM exhibits a consistent pattern of female resilience to mortality under adversity. Moreover, as societies develop, M/F survival first declines and then increases, a “SDIM transition” embedded within the demographic and epidemiologic transitions.