Monday, September 23, 2013

Rich Man, Poor Woman?
• Boys have a higher infant-mortality rate than girls. Out of 100,000 live-born boys, 699 die before age 1. For girls the figure is 573. That means the infant-mortality rate for boys is approximately 20% higher than for girls.

• Out of 100,000 boys, 1,140 die before age 18. For girls the figure is 867. (These figures include infant deaths.) That means the total mortality rate for minors is 24% higher among boys than among girls.

• Boys are likelier to die than girls at every age except 10 and 11. Those are the ages at which persons of either sex are least likely to die, and the sex differences at those ages are minuscule.

Mortality among infants, children and teens is correlated with poverty for a variety of reasons, including greater exposure to abuse, neglect and crime and poorer quality of nutrition and health care. Boys are at greater risk than girls because they tend to be less robust physically and, as they get older, likelier to get involved in crime and other dangerous behavior. So if there are slightly more impoverished girls than boys, it is likely because poor girls have a better chance of surviving to adulthood than their brothers do.

A similar explanation applies to the elderly. The pattern of men being likelier to die than women applies at every age from 12 through 117, by which point, statistically speaking, everyone is dead. (The aggregate death rate, we hasten to add, is 100% for both sexes. How can that be? By about the mid-80s, a greater number of women are dying each year, but the annual proportion is smaller because so many more women are still alive at that age.)

So the age distribution of the over-65 set is quite disparate, with far more superannuated women and a higher proportion of merely elderly men. That would contribute to female poverty--which, again, is a measure of household income--in several ways. An 85-year-old widow is a lot less likely to work than a 65-year-old man. Having incurred 20 years of ordinary expenses, she (and her late husband) is likely to have spent down a greater portion of her savings. And she's likelier to be in a nursing home or other long-term-care facility, further depleting her wealth (and therefore her income).

Old age is a shipwreck, de Gaulle observed. Like the Titanic, it is one that women are likelier to survive--and that is why old women have a higher poverty rate than old men....

The War on Football
...From concussion doctors pushing “science” that benefits their hidden business interests to lawyers clamoring for billion-dollar settlements in scam litigation, America’s game has become so big that everybody wants a cut. And those chasing the dollars show themselves more than willing to trash a great sport in hot pursuit of a buck.

Everything they say about football is wrong. Football players don’t commit suicide at elevated levels, die younger than their peers, or suffer disproportionately from heart disease. In fact, professional players live longer, healthier lives than American men in general.

More than that, football is America’s most popular sport. It brings us together. It is, and has been, a rite of passage for millions of American boys.

But fear over concussions and other injuries could put football on ice. School districts are already considering doing away with football as too dangerous. Parents who used to see football as character-building now worry that it may be mind-destroying. Even the president has jumped on the pile by fretting that he might prevent a son from playing if he had one.

But as author Daniel J. Flynn reports, football is actually safer than skateboarding, bicycling, or skiing. And in a nation facing an obesity crisis, a little extra running, jumping, and tackling could do us all good....