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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Gender, Social Norms, and Survival in Maritime Disasters

Vetenskaplig artikel på engelska
Referens
Elinder, Mikael och Oscar Erixson (2012). ”Gender, Social Norms, and Survival in Maritime Disasters”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109(33), 13220–13224. doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1207156109

Författare
Mikael Elinder, Oscar Erixson

Since the sinking of the Titanic, there has been a widespread belief that the social norm of “women and children first” (WCF) gives women a survival advantage over men in maritime disasters, and that captains and crew members 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 unique picture of maritime disasters. Women have a distinct survival disadvantage compared with 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; there seems to be no association between duration of a disaster and the impact of social norms; women fare no better when they constitute a small share of the ship’s complement; the length of the voyage before the disaster appears to have no impact on women’s relative survival rate; the sex gap in survival rates has declined since World War I; and women have a larger disadvantage in British shipwrecks. Taken together, our findings show that human behavior in life-and-death situations is best captured by the expression “every man for himself.”