Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 913: Every Man for Himself! Gender, Norms and Survival in Maritime Disasters

Mikael Elinder () and Oscar Erixson
Additional contact information
Mikael Elinder: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Postal: and Department of Economics, Uppsala University
Oscar Erixson: Uppsala Center for Fiscal Studies, Postal: Department of Economics, Uppsala University

Abstract: Since the sinking of the Titanic, there has been a widespread belief that the social norm of ‘women and children first’ gives women a survival advantage over men in maritime disasters, and that captains and crew 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 new picture of maritime disasters. Women have a distinct survival disadvantage compared to 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, that the gender gap in survival rates has declined, that women have a larger disadvantage in British shipwrecks, and that there seems to be no association between duration of a disaster and the impact of social norms. Taken together, our findings show that behavior in life-and-death situation is best captured by the expression ‘Every man for himself’.

Keywords: Social Norms; Disaster; Women and children first; Mortality; High stakes

JEL-codes: C70; D63; D81; J16

78 pages, April 10, 2012

Full text files

wp913.pdf PDF-file 

Download statistics

Questions (including download problems) about the papers in this series should be directed to Elisabeth Gustafsson ()
Report other problems with accessing this service to Sune Karlsson ().

This page generated on 2024-02-05 17:12:19.