Economic Transition, Male Competition, and Sex Differences in Mortality Rates
Daniel J Kruger, University of Michigan
Randolph M Nesse, University of Michigan
Sex differences in mortality rates result from a complex set of causes which are best understood in an integrative evolutionary framework. We predicted that the transition from centrally planned to market economies in Eastern Europe increased sex differences in mortality rates, because increasing variation in social status and resources would increase risky male behavior and the physiological impact of stress. The sex difference in mortality rates increased considerably across 14 Eastern European countries from 1985-1989 to 1990-1994, most prominently during early adulthood. For nearly all nations, the increase was considerably higher than that for Western Europe. The effect across countries varies considerably and likely reflects conditions particular to each country. These findings illustrate how traits shaped by natural selection interact with environmental conditions to influence mortality patterns.