Time Trends in the Male Accident Hump: A Biological Clock for Men?

Joshua R. Goldstein, Princeton University

The proposed paper looks at time-trends and cross-cultural comparisons in the timing and magnitude of the male accident hump, the surplus mortality that is observed in young adult males. This accident hump coincides with the peak of testosterone over the life cycle and is presumably driven at least part by the male biological life cycle. It may have evolved as a by-product of risk-taking behavior that among our distant ancestors increased mating opportunities. Early results detect an accident hump in mortality curves from as early as the mid-18th century. A shift of the curve to younger ages seems to have occurred over time, either as a result of changing risk conditions (e.g., the introduction of the automobile) or changing risk-taking behavior, perhaps brought about by accelerated hormonal timing by males exposed to secular improvements in nutrition.

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Presented in Session 39: Demographic Perspectives on Emotions, Happiness, and Hormones