Historical and Life Course Timing of the Male Mortality Disadvantage in Europe

Epidemiologic Transitions, Evolution, and Behavior

Published in: Biodemography and Social Biology, v. 53, no. 1-2, Spring-Summer 2006, p. 61-80

Posted on RAND.org on May 01, 2006

by Margaret M. Weden, Ryan Andrew Brown

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This study employs vital statistics data from Sweden, England, Wales, France, and Spain to examine male:female mortality differentials from 1750 through 2000 and their interrelationship with epidemiological transitions. Across all ages and time periods, the largest relative mortality disadvantages are to young adult men. When crisis mortality from the two world wars is removed, we show that the mortality in this young male age group is about two to three times the level of female mortality across all countries sampled. In addition, we show that the timing of this stabilization in male mortality disadvantages occurs during the last half of the twentieth century, at the same point that our measure of epidemiological change also stabilizes at a new low level. The findings are consistent with an interdisciplinary theoretical model that links social, technological and epidemiological changes that occurred through the first half of the 20th century with the unmasking and accentuation of mortality disadvantages among young adult men.

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