Haha, women… Can’t live with em, can’t live without them, and in the case of a sinking ship, you ditch them!
[I] Swedish Study of Maritime Disasters Finds that ‘Women and Children First’ is More Saying than Reality
Using 18 maritime disasters from 1852 to 2011 from all parts of the world, involving more than 15,000 people and 30 nationalities, Swedish economists Michael Elinder and Oscar Erixson determined that “women have a distinct survival disadvantage compared to men,” when it comes to maritime disasters. Shipwrecks provide a valuable context in which to study human behavior in life or death situations.
It turns out the common social norm, of ‘women and children first’ is not a reality when it comes to life or death situations, and rather the reality is better summed up by ‘Every man for himself’. In fact captains and crew were found to be more likely to survive a maritime disaster than any other passenger.
The sinking of the Titanic is an exception to the findings, in this maritime disaster women and children were in fact put on lifeboats first while for the most part men stood back waiting their turn. As a result 70 percent of the women and children were saved and only 20 percent of the men onboard were saved.
Testing several hypotheses, the study found that women are half as likely to survive as men and that crew members have an 18.7 percent survival advantage over passengers. The survival rate for women rises by about 7 percent when the order of ‘women and children first’ is given by the captain. In addition, the survival rate for women onboard British ships (with British captain and crew) was between 13.9 and 15.3 percent lower than in disasters involving ships and crew of other nationalities.
Elinder and Erixson say their results give new insights about human behavior in life threatening situations, and shed light on common social perceptions. They also note the importance of strong leadership in disastrous situations.
[HR][/HR] Note: This is a brief summarization of Elinder and Erixson’s findings. To see the full report that includes all of their findings and research, click here.