Gender-Related Traits and Health

Date of Original Version



Book Chapter

Abstract or Description

Sex differences in cognitive domains, such as mathematical ability, and social domains, such as moral development, continue to be hotly debated, but there is widespread agreement that there are sex differences in health and that the size of these differences are substantive. To start with, women live longer than men (Hoyert et al., 1999). In fact, men are more likely than women to die of each of the ten leading causes of death, which include heart disease, cancer, accidents, and stroke (Hoyert et al., 1999). However, while living, women’s health appears to be worse than that of men. Women suffer from more acute illnesses and more nonfatal chronic illnesses compared to men (Verbrugge, 1989). Thus, at any given point in time, women are more likely than men to be ill and to be living with a chronic disease. Women report more disability than men – more days spent in bed due to illness and more days in which they restrict their activities due to illness compared to men (Cleary et al., 1982; Kandrack et al., 1991; Verbrugge, 1989). Women also suffer from more painful disorders compared to men (Berkley, 1997; Macintyre et al., 1996; Unruh, 1996), and women perceive their health to be worse than men (Arber and Ginn, 1993; Cleary et al., 1982; Denton and Walters, 1999). Women suffer twice the rate of depression as men (Culbertson, 1997; Nolen- Hoeksema, 1987), yet men are roughly four times as likely as women to commit suicide (US Department of Justice, 1998).




Published In

Social Psychological Foundations of Health and Illness, Edited by Jerry Suls, Kenneth A. Wallston. Wiley-Blackwell, 367-394.