Need a health boost?
As if unsafe food, natural disasters and the possibility of needing to clean up crude oil in nothing but your skivvies wasn’t bad enough, men in China may be facing a more dire threat to their health – the one child policy and its resulting lack of women.
It’s now well known that China’s one child policy, combined with “Confucian values,” has resulted in millions more men than women (though some say the gap isn’t as pronounced as official figures would have you believe). But while the situation has always been unfortunate for the 20-some million single guys here, recent studies contend that all men are being affected by the dearth of girls.
The Economist highlights two studies – one comparing life spans of people born in the U.S. state of Wisconsin in 1957 to the male-to-female ratio in their graduating class and another that uses data from 7.5 million Caucasian males enrolled in America’s Medicare program in 1993:
In the Wisconsin sample, Dr Christakis looked at those who had died before their 65th birthday. For the women, there was no significant relationship between their school’s sex ratio and their age of death. For the men, however, a significant relationship did emerge. A percentage-point increase in the male-to-female ratio of a man’s graduation class led to a percentage-point increase in his likelihood of dying before the age of 65. The Social Security data, moreover, suggest that a lack of women during men’s teenage years still haunts their health decades later.
The average white American male who was 65 in 1993 could expect to live another 15 years. Dr Christakis found, however, that those who had come of age around the most available women had a life-expectancy three months longer than that of the least favoured. Three months may not seem a huge difference, but according to Dr Christakis it is comparable to the benefit an elderly person can expect from exercising or losing some surplus weight.
Granted, these were all studies done on mostly white males in a country where there’s supposedly a happiness/health boost from just getting married. Who knows what unique cultural factors could contribute to women being a longevity pill? But if these effects do apply across the entire world, how many years of their lives would Chinese men be losing out on?