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Leviathan

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 3–39 | Cite as

Wer ist das schwache Geschlecht? Zur Sterblichkeit von Männern und Frauen innerhalb und außerhalb der Ehe

  • Jens Alber
Aufsätze

Who is the weaker sex? On the mortality of men and women inside and outside of marriage

Abstract

In the middle of the life-cycle unmarried persons have much higher death rates than married ones. The differential is significantly greater for men than for women. A comparative historical data collection shows that this pattern of gendered inequality persisted from the 1920s over the 1970s to the 1990s. Comparing the gender-specific death rates within a given marital status, the highest gender gaps in mortality are reached in case of divorce or bereavement, where the male death rate is usually more than three times higher than the female one. The gendered reaction to the loss of the spouse calls for a sociological explanation. Abstracting from selection effects, a wide range of hypotheses is considered ranging from feminist sociology to socio-biologist ideas. The central hypothesis advanced here is that men die over-proportionately in case of divorce or bereavement, because they are more dependent upon the sexual and emotional attachment to their spouse, whereas women more frequently have emotionally rewarding contacts to other persons outside the conjugal relationship.

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Copyright information

© VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften/Wiesbaden 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jens Alber

There are no affiliations available

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