Story: Epidemics

Male and female death rates from influenza in 1918

More men than women died in the 1918 influenza pandemic. This was different in most other countries which had more even rates and a slight preponderance of female deaths. Males in the 30–34 age group were the worst affected and at the time people noticed that strong and healthy men rather than 'chesty' or 'weedy' types were more susceptible. Possible explanations include that healthy males did not catch the first mild wave of the flu so were more vulnerable when the second, more deadly, wave arrived; and that men went out to work and were more exposed to the virus than women, who were more likely (and more able) to stay at home. If men did bring the virus home, then women and children could stay home and recover, while men may have to continue working.

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Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Source: Geoffrey W. Rice, Black November: the 1918 influenza pandemic in New Zealand. 2nd ed. Christchurch: Canterbury University Press, 2005, p. 223.

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How to cite this page:

Geoff Rice, 'Epidemics - The influenza era, 1890s to 1920s', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/graph/27794/male-and-female-death-rates-from-influenza-in-1918 (accessed 19 December 2018)

Story by Geoff Rice, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 15 May 2018