Sara Klein Ridgley, Ph.D. HomeContentsContact
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Monday, September 21, 1992

For men, birthdays not so happy

As date nears they face a greater risk of death

Staff Writer

When it comes to birthday presence, look for women.

A new study by UCSD sociology Professor David Phillips indicates that the prospect of a birthday tends to prolong the lives of women but precipitate death in men.

Phillips and two assistants surveyed 2,745,149 deaths by natural causes between 1969 and 1990. They found that the death rate for women dipped below normal in the week before birthdays and increased to its highest point during the following week.

Male mortality, on the other hand. peaked shortly before the birthday.

Phillips said the results suggest that women tend to perceive birthdays as positive, symbolically meaningful events in their lives, while men more often look at birthdays negatively.


"Men are more likely to evaluate their lives based on achievements in the workplace," he said. "Society. however, often sets unrealistic goals, and some men become depressed as their birthdays arrive and they take stock of where they are."

But with more women in the workplace, Phillips said, their statistics eventually may more closely resemble those of men.

The study is the latest research by Phillips on mortality and it's relationship to calendar events. Earlier, Phillips reported that some people were able to postpone their deaths until after particular holidays and that people are more likely to commit suicide during the year of a symbolic birthday, generally at ages ending in five or zero.

Phillips, who is 49, confidently predicted many more years of research.


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