Sexism May Shorten Men's Lives: Study

Countries with high levels of violence against women also have high male death rates

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THURSDAY, Sept. 15, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- In a somewhat unexpected finding, societal male dominance over women -- patriarchy -- may help explain why men have a lower life expectancy than women worldwide.

British researchers analyzed rates of female murders and male death rates from all causes in 51 countries in Europe, Asia, Australasia, and North and South America. The prevalence of violence against women was used to indicate the extent of patriarchal control in each of the countries. Socioeconomic factors were also taken into consideration.

The study found that women lived longer than men in all 51 countries. The study also found that those countries with higher rates of female murders (indicating higher levels of patriarchy) also had higher rates for male death and shorter male life expectancies, compared to countries with lower female murder rates, the researchers said.

In fact, statistical analysis showed that variations between countries in rates of violence against women accounted for close to half (49 percent) of the variation in male death rates, the researchers noted.

"Our data suggest that oppression and exploitation harm the oppressors as well as those they oppress," researchers at the University of Liverpool concluded.

They noted that the higher death rate and shorter life expectancy among men is "a preventable social condition, which can potentially be tackled through global social policy."

For example, changes can be made in the way that young males are socialized into patriarchal gender roles, such as the emphasis on risk taking, aggression and suppression of emotions, the researchers said.

The findings appear in the current issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these men's health tips.

SOURCE: BMJ Specialist Journals, news release, Sept. 15, 2005

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