Gender, Environmental 'Stressors' and Mortality: Tracing Age- and Cause-Specific Mortality Differentials in a Century of Birth Cohorts from England and Wales, France, and the United States

Margaret M. Weden, RAND Corporation

Large-scale environmental ‘shocks’ or ‘stressors’, such as the two World Wars, are used examine the relationship between population demographics and gendered environmental conditions. Age- and cause-specific mortality differences between men and women are studied for cohorts born 1840-1980 in England and Wales, France and the U.S. (whites and non-whites). Key findings are: 1) dramatic peaks in male mortality disadvantage for cohorts reaching young adulthood (age 20-24) during WWI and WWII, and 2) a recent re-emergence of large sex-differentials in young adulthood that are consistent with increases in suicide among men (white and non-white) in the U.S. The study underscores the role of gendered environmental conditions in shaping young male exposure to mortal physical ‘stressors’ during war. In addition, it highlights the role of gender in shaping the exposures of more recent cohorts to mortal psychosocial ‘stressors’.

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Presented in Session 110: Long Run Trends and Differentials in Mortality