Working Paper No. 913

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

Published: April 10, 2012Pages: 78Keywords: Social Norms; Disaster; Women and children first; Mortality; High stakes JEL-codes: C70; D63; D81; J16

Every Man for Himself! Gender, Norms and Survival in Maritime Disasters Mikael Elinder and Oscar Erixson


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’.

Mikael Elinder


Ph: +46 18 471 1637
Mob: +46 70 769 0976

Swedish Taxation: Developments since 1862


In Swedish Taxation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), Magnus Henrekson and Mikael Stenkula examine the development of taxation in Sweden since 1862. By taking the long view on the evolution of tax policies they explain how Sweden developed the highest tax-to-GDP ratio in the world, until the beginning of the 2000s.


Seminars organized by IFN


To present ongoing research informal brown-bag seminars are held on Mondays at 11:30 am. This is an opportunity for IFN researchers to test ideas and results.

Academically oriented seminars are most of the time held on Wednesdays at 10 am. At these events researchers from IFN and other institutions present their research.

In addition, IFN organizes seminars open to the public. Topics for these are derived from the IFN research.

Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Grevgatan 34 - 2 fl, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden | Phone: +46-(0)8-665 45 00 |