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Every Man for Himself! Gender, Norms and Survival in Maritime Disasters

Author

Listed:
  • Elinder, Mikael

    (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

  • Erixson, Oscar

    (Uppsala Center for Fiscal Studies)

Abstract

Since the sinking of the Titanic, there has been a widespread belief that the social norm of ‘women and children first’ gives women a survival advantage over men in maritime disasters, and that captains and crew give priority to passengers. We analyze a database of 18 maritime disasters spanning three centuries, covering the fate of over 15,000 individuals of more than 30 nationalities. Our results provide a new picture of maritime disasters. Women have a distinct survival disadvantage compared to men. Captains and crew survive at a significantly higher rate than passengers. We also find that the captain has the power to enforce normative behavior, that the gender gap in survival rates has declined, that women have a larger disadvantage in British shipwrecks, and that there seems to be no association between duration of a disaster and the impact of social norms. Taken together, our findings show that behavior in life-and-death situation is best captured by the expression ‘Every man for himself’.

Suggested Citation

  • Elinder, Mikael & Erixson, Oscar, 2012. "Every Man for Himself! Gender, Norms and Survival in Maritime Disasters," Working Paper Series 913, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:0913
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Bruno S. Frey & David A. Savage & Benno Torgler, 2011. "Behavior under Extreme Conditions: The Titanic Disaster," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 209-222, Winter.
    2. Cameron,A. Colin & Trivedi,Pravin K., 2005. "Microeconometrics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521848053, November.
    3. Frey, Bruno S. & Savage, David A. & Torgler, Benno, 2010. "Noblesse oblige? Determinants of survival in a life-and-death situation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 74(1-2), pages 1-11, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. ‘Women and Children First’ vs. ‘Every Man for Himself’
      by Christopher Shea in Ideas Market on 2012-05-14 18:52:00
    2. [経済]コスタ・コンコルディアの船長は例外に非ず
      by himaginary in himaginaryの日記 on 2012-05-21 12:00:00
    3. Women and children first? No
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2012-05-11 19:36:00
    4. Women and children first! Not!
      by Andreas Ortmann in Core Economics on 2012-05-20 12:21:06
    5. Women and children first! Not!
      by Andreas Ortmann in Core Economics on 2012-05-20 12:21:06

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social Norms; Disaster; Women and children first; Mortality; High stakes;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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