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Marc Luy (2003)

Why Women Live Longer – Do the Factors Education Level and Missionising Activity of Order Members Affect the Comparison of Mortality of the General and the Cloistered Population?*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 28, 1/2003, p. 5-35, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, ISSN: 0340-2398

Analysing the gender-specific mortality differences in Bavarian women's and men's cloisters permitted us to show that that the increase in excess male mortality which has taken place since the Second World War can be traced solely to behavioural and environmental causes, and not to biological factors. Whilst the gap in life expectancy in the general German population widened successively, this difference in the Bavarian cloistered population also remained unchanged in the post-war period, with a slight advantage in favour of the nuns. However, these results could have been distorted by the standard of education and missionary activities of the Catholic nuns and monks since the proportions of the more highly educated and of the missionary members of the order are not identical in women's and men's cloisters. This article however shows that the influence of these two factors on the analysis of the differences in mortality between nuns and monks can be ruled out. Whilst the education factor in the cloistered population, in which the members' lifestyles do not differ as in the general population depending on the standard of education, has no influence on the mortality rate, removing missionaries from the analysis would in fact lead to a further slight reduction in excess male mortality in the cloistered population. The significance of the knowledge gained from the Bavarian cloister study as to the gender-specific mortality differences is therefore not restricted in any way by the specific characteristics of the cloistered population observed.

* Original title: Warum Frauen länger leben – wird ein Vergleich der Sterblichkeit von Kloster- und Allgemeinbevölkerung durch Bildungsgrad und Missionstätigkeit der Ordensmitglieder beeinflusst? (full text in German only)

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