Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/82617
Authors: 
Elinder, Mikael
Erixson, Oscar
Year of Publication: 
2012
Series/Report no.: 
Working Paper, Department of Economics, Uppsala University 2012:8
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'.
Subjects: 
Social norms
Disaster
Women and children first
Mortality
High stakes
JEL: 
C70
D63
D81
J16
Persistent Identifier of the first edition: 
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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