Fascinating obeervations from Reynolds et al.:
Greater autonomy afforded to women in matrilineal societies has been hypothesized to benefit women’s health. Among the Mosuo, a society with both matrilineal and patrilineal subpopulations, we found that gender disparities in chronic disease are not only ameliorated but reversed in matriliny compared with patriliny. Gender disparities in health and chronic disease can thus be tied directly to cultural influences on health, including inequalities in autonomy and resource access between men and women.Abstract
Women experience higher morbidity than men, despite living longer. This is often attributed to biological differences between the sexes; however, the majority of societies in which these disparities are observed exhibit gender norms that favor men. We tested the hypothesis that female-biased gender norms ameliorate gender disparities in health by comparing gender differences in inflammation and hypertension among the matrilineal and patrilineal Mosuo of China. Widely reported gender disparities in health were reversed among matrilineal Mosuo compared with patrilineal Mosuo, due to substantial improvements in women’s health, with no concomitant detrimental effects on men. These findings offer evidence that gender norms limiting women’s autonomy and biasing inheritance toward men adversely affect the health of women, increasing women’s risk for chronic diseases with tremendous global health impact.