The existence of the morbidity-mortality paradox
What is meant by the morbidity-mortality paradox and how do we know it exists? Describe how both errors in self-report and gender role ideologies may or may not explain this paradox.
The Morbidity-Mortality Paradox
The purpose of this essay is to define morbidity-mortality paradox and explain its existence. The scope also includes description of how gender role ideologies and self-report errors may or may not explain this paradox. Morbidity-mortality paradox is an observed phenomenon in which women tend to experience more case of disability and medical conditions throughout the length of their lives compared to men yet women seem to outlive men (Bosson, Vandello, & Buckner, 2019). The outcome is unexpected; hence, it is considered as a paradox. There is common perception that the more the sicker the person the more the risk of dying.
Gender role ideologies may explain reversal of sex mortality and sex morbidity. Men and women have different perceptions of risks. Men tend to assume the role of protection and tend to take more risks compared to women. This may help explain why men tend to die earlier compared to women (Avdic & Johansson, 2016). Women are likely to be absent from work due to health reasons compared to men. The pattern of lower mortality and increased sickness absence from work due to health issues in women provides evidence on more preventive and proactive behavior of women than men, which can help explain the basis of morbidity-mortality paradox (Avdic et al., 2019). Differences in gender roles promote differences in day-to-day behaviors. These behaviors include drinking of alcohol, smoking, dietary preferences and so on, which can influence different measures of morbidity (Avdic et al., 2019).
Errors in self-report may be providing foundation to the existence of the paradox. Women are more likely to seek medical care far more than men. In such cases, women tend to present with conditions that do not result in significant level of mortality but increase the level of reported morbidity. On the other hand, the women tend to have a relatively longer life expectancy compared to men (Bosson, Vandello, & Buckner, 2019). Life expectancy of women is generally longer than that of men nearly across the world and in all ages. The global average gender difference in life expectancy in 2010 was 4 years (Avdic et al., 2019). Thus, women may report more conditions than men due to relative longevity of their lives but still appear to be living longer than men (Bosson, Vandello, & Buckner, 2019). Women are generally over-represented in common measures of morbidity such as self-reported health and medical care utilization; thus, leading perception of the existence of morbidity-mortality paradox (Avdic et al., 2019).
In conclusion, morbidity-mortality paradox is founded on the commonly held perception that women tend to experience more disorders and disabilities than men but yet they seem to outlive men. Different gender roles may be influences differences in involvement of men and women in risk behaviors. Involvement in risk behaviors may help explain the reason as to why women outlive men. Conversely, self-reported health behavior and health seeking behavior is more in women that in men leading to over-representation of women in morbidity and mortality measures. Over-representation may contribute to the common perception for the existence of morbidity-mortality paradox.
Avdic, D., & Johansson, P. (2016). Absenteeism, gender and the morbidity-mortality paradox. Journal of Applied Econometrics, 32(2), 440-462. https://doi.org/10.1002/jae.2516
Avdic, D., Hägglund, P., Lindahl B., & Johansson, P. (2019). Sex differences in sickness absence and the morbidity-mortality paradox: a longitudinal study using Swedish administrative registers. BMJ Open, 9, e024098. https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/bmjopen/9/8/e024098.full.pdf
Bosson, J. K., Vandello, J. A., & Buckner, C. E. (2019). The Psychology of sex and gender.