The age-old belief of men being stronger than women is debunked by the new study that shows that women today tend to live longer than men almost everywhere in the world -- in some countries by more than a decade.
Researchers from Duke University and University of Southern Denmark analysed the mortality data going back roughly around 250 years for people whose lives were cut short by different disasters like famine or diseases or other misfortunes.
They found that historical records of three centuries show that women don't just outlive men in normal times, they are likely to survive even in the worst of circumstances like famines and epidemics more than that of men, researchers report.
"The data spanned seven populations in which the life expectancy for one or both sexes was a dismal 20 years or less. Among them were working and former slaves in Trinidad and the United States in the early 1800s, famine victims in Sweden, Ireland and Ukraine in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, and Icelanders affected by the 1846 and 1882 measles epidemics," Duke University mentioned in their report.
The researchers found that the girls born during the famine in Ukraine in 1933 had a mortality rate of 10.85, and boys 7.3.
When the results were broken down by age group, they found that most of the female survival advantage comes from differences in infant mortality.
"Most of the female advantage was due to differences in mortality among infants: baby girls were able to survive harsh conditions better than baby boys," the study, led by Professor Virginia Zarulli and Professor James Vaupel, concluded.
"Our results add another piece to the puzzle of gender differences in survival," the researchers said.
The findings were published in the Journal of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.