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Gender differences in health: Are things really as simple as they seem?

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  • Macintyre, Sally
  • Hunt, Kate
  • Sweeting, Helen
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    Abstract

    It is conventional wisdom in medical sociology and social epidemiology that in industrialized societies men die earlier than women, but that women have poorer health than men. A number of explanations for these differences have been postulated and tested (for example, different biological risks, acquired risks, reporting biases and experiences of health care). Using two recent British data sets we find that the pattern of sex differences in morbidity is more complicated than the conventional wisdom often suggests. The direction and magnitude of sex differences in health vary according to the particular symptom or condition in question and according to the phase of the life cycle. Female excess is only consistently found across the life span for psychological distress and is far less apparent, or reversed, for a number of physical symptoms and conditions. Detailed inspection of papers on gender differences published in the last decade reveals that our findings are not unique, but that a relatively undifferentiated model of consistent sex differences has nevertheless continued to predominate in the literature. We believe that the topic of gender differences in health warrants periodic re-examination.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 42 (1996)
    Issue (Month): 4 (February)
    Pages: 617-624

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:42:y:1996:i:4:p:617-624

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    Related research

    Keywords: gender differences morbidity life course;

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    Cited by:
    1. Maleshkov, Hristo, 2004. "Social and economic circumstances of sex differentials in poor health of elderly population," IRISS Working Paper Series 2004-06, IRISS at CEPS/INSTEAD.
    2. Ingrid Waldron & Christopher McCloskey & Inga Earle, 2005. "Trends in gender differences in accidents mortality," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 13(17), pages 415-454, November.
    3. Steven G. Prus & Ellen Gee, 2002. "Gender Differences in the Influence of Economic, Lifestyle, and Psychosocial Factors on Later-life Health," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 76, McMaster University.
    4. Pavel Grigoriev & Olga Grigorieva, 2011. "Self-perceived health in Belarus: Evidence from the income and expenditures of households survey," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 24(23), pages 551-578, April.
    5. Long, Nguyen Hoang & Johansson, Eva & Diwan, Vinod K. & Winkvist, Anna, 2001. "Fear and social isolation as consequences of tuberculosis in VietNam: a gender analysis," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 69-81, October.
    6. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2004. "Sex Differences in Morbidity and Mortality," Working Papers 244, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
    7. Craig Gallet, 2009. "The Determinants of AIDS Mortality: Evidence from a State-Level Panel," Atlantic Economic Journal, International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 37(4), pages 425-436, December.
    8. M. Dolores Montoya Diaz, 2002. "Socio-economic health inequalities in Brazil: gender and age effects," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(2), pages 141-154.
    9. Evelyn Forget & Raisa Deber & Leslie Roos & Randy Walld, 2005. "Canadian Health Reform: A Gender Analysis," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(1), pages 123-141.
    10. Enzo Grossi & Angelo Compare & Cristina Lonardi & Renata Cerutti & Edward Callus & Mauro Niero, 2013. "Gender-related Effect of Cultural Participation in Psychological Well-being: Indications from the Well-being Project in the Municipality of Milan," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 114(2), pages 255-271, November.
    11. Steven G. Prus & Ellen Gee, 2001. "Measuring Differences in the Effect of Social Resource Factors on the Health of Elderly Canadian Men and Women," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 58, McMaster University.
    12. Springer, Kristen W. & Mager Stellman, Jeanne & Jordan-Young, Rebecca M., 2012. "Beyond a catalogue of differences: A theoretical frame and good practice guidelines for researching sex/gender in human health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(11), pages 1817-1824.

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