When the going gets tough, women are more resilient than men

While women are more determined men give up when things get tough

While women are more determined men give up when things get tough

The Ukrainian starvation was even worse: Life expectancy dropped from 41.58 years to just 7.3 years for men and to 10.9 years from women, down from 45.93.

Upon review of three centuries of historical records, Duke University investigators discovered that women do not just outlive men in normal times.

Women were also found to be more likely to live to extreme old age than men and new born girls survived longer than new born boys during famines and epidemics.

The researchers attribute female hardiness to "biological underpinnings" - basically, their female genetics.

The researchers, from the Max Planck Institute in Odense, southern Denmark and colleagues reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: 'The conditions experienced by the people in the analyzed populations were horrific.

So, the former first lady would most certainly have approved of a new study which suggests women, far from being the weaker sex, are much more likely to survive a life-threatening crisis.

Dr. Virginia Zarulli, an assistant professor at the University of Southern Denmark, and Dr. James Vaupel, a research professor at Duke University, analyzed mortality data going back roughly 250 years for people whose lives were cut short by starvation, disease or other misfortunes.

Case studies included the Irish starvation of 1845-1849, the Iceland measles epidemics of 1846 and 1882, and the experiences of freed Liberian slaves returning to Africa from the United States in the early 19th century, where they encountered a very different disease climate which killed many.

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In Europe, the life expectancy of a group of people living in Ireland was cut short by more than 15 years due to an extensive crop failure.

'We find that even when mortality was very high, women lived longer.

We all know that women are the supreme reigning life expectancy champs in nearly every country in the world (although chubby dads in the USA live a pretty long time).

Girls living in Ukraine during the 1933 starvation had a mortality rate of 10.85, while the boys lived to the average age of 7.3.

According to the lead author of the study, Dr. Virginia Zarulli: "Most of the female advantage was due to differences in mortality among infants".

And biological differences between the sexes, could also help explain why women are more resilient, the scientists said. Estrogens, for example, have been shown to enhance the body's immune defenses against infectious disease.

"Our results add another piece to the puzzle of gender differences in survival", the researchers said.

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