Men disadvantaged over women in the first world? Looking at that study

According to the Metro UK, a new study has found that men are actually disadvantaged in comparison to women in the first world.

You can read the actual study on PloS One.

The Metro reported that the study’s authors claimed that previous research had focused on women’s issues, and thus produced biased results.

Instead this research focused on three core outcomes: educational opportunities, healthy life expectancy and overall life satisfaction.

The researchers found that in terms of these three issues, the most equal society in the world is Bahrain, followed by the UK and the Netherlands.

Most of Europe was found to be better for women than men.

My Take

In 2013 the Heritage Foundation in America listed Hong Kong as being the freest market in the world.

So a city in communist China was 2013’s freest market. That should tell you that there is something wonky about how they judge these things.

What has this got to do with the Metro’s report?

They say the nation leading the world in gender equality is Bahrain.

Here’s what Human Rights Watch has to say about that nation regarding women’s rights:

Law 19/2009 regulates personal status matters only in Sunni religious courts, so that Shia women are not covered by a codified personal status law. Both Sunni and Shia women face discrimination in the right to divorce and other matters.

Adultery and sexual relations outside marriage are criminalized. No law prohibits discrimination on the grounds of gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

There’s something wonky about this research.

But what is it? Well, lets take a look at those criteria for a second.

Life expectancy, here’s what we see in South Africa as per Stats SA in 2017:

Life expectancy at birth for 2017 is estimated at 61,2 years for males and 66,7 years for females.

The study itself actually says this:

Of interest is that women have a longer healthy life span than men in nearly all countries. Although this is a pattern common to mammals [31], the cross-national variation cannot be simply due to biological sex differences alone.

So here’s the problem, if you’re taking life expectancy as a measure of equality and males living less long than females is a feature common to mammals – and you have countries ranking higher because they invert that trend, like in Saudi Arabia, does that indicate social equality?

Well it does according to this measure.

Using this measure, without correcting for biological differences, sounds an awful lot like doing what the authors accused prior studies of doing – biasing their results.

Next lets look at “overall life satisfaction”. Here’s how they calculate that:

They used the “Life Today” question.

“Please imagine a ladder with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top. Suppose we say that the top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you, and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time, assuming that the higher the step the better you feel about your life, and the lower the step the worse you feel about it? Which step comes closest to the way you feel?”

The problem with this is simple. What is a possible life? That’s a very culturally loaded concept.

If you have greater possibilities in your society, then under this measure you’ve got a bigger hill to climb to achieve your best possible life. How can this be taken as a measure of gender equality, when in sexist societies what is a possible life for a woman is going to be very different to what is a possible life for a man?

So out of the three measures the only one that I can really say means anything is educational opportunities, and one out of three just isn’t good enough for me to take the claims made here all that seriously.


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