These days there are more sophisticated ways to measure strength than an old-fashioned arm wrestle. Like, for example, our resilience and hardiness when it comes to withstanding horrendous ordeals.
And if research from the University of Southern Denmark is to be believed, women are the far stronger sex in these instances.
Using historical data to analyse death rates for men and women who endured famines, epidemics or were sold into slavery, researchers found that in nearly every case, women outlived male counterparts by years.
By the way, fellas, in case you get all angry and insecure, we’re talking biological strength. So don’t get all uppity about the role of women in WWI and WWII.
Just pray you never experience a famine!
The study looked at events in history such as the 1933 Ukraine famine in the Soviet Union, the 1845 Irish potato famine, life expectancy of slaves in Trinidad in 1813.
The Swedish famine of 1772-1773, survival rates of freed slaves from the US settling in Liberia between 1820 and 1843 and the deadly measles epidemics in Iceland in 1842 and 1882.
In comparing male and female birth and death records they found that females virtually always lived far longer.
For example, during the Irish potato famine life expectancy went from 38 years for both sexes, to 18.7 years for men and 22.4 years for women and in the Ukrainian famine life expectancy dropped from 41.58 to 7.3 years for men, and from 45.93 years for women to 10.9 years.
The study points to the idea that women have a survival advantage which is biologically innate.
The study notes:
“Even in Liberia, the population with the lowest life expectancy, newborn girls were hardier than newborn boys”
Their findings, as reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, noted that
“Even though the crises reduced the female survival advantage in life expectancy, women still survived better than men.
“In all populations, they had lower mortality across almost all ages, and, with the exception of one slave population, they lived longer on average than men”
Lead author Dr Virginia Zarulli said:
‘The conditions experienced by the people in the analysed populations were horrific. Even though the crises reduced the female survival advantage in life expectancy, women still survived better than men.
‘We find that even when mortality was very high, women lived longer.
‘Most of the female advantage was due to differences in mortality among infants. It is striking that during epidemics and famines as harsh as those analysed here newborn girls still survived better than newborn boys.’