News Release

Gender norms and health disparities

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Researchers examine gender disparities in health in China's Mosuo societies. Women tend to outlive men, but they experience higher morbidity rates. This phenomenon is especially prevalent in societies exhibiting gender norms that favor men. Using household surveys of 958 participants conducted between January and August of 2017 in six matrilineal and six patrilineal Mosuo villages in Yunnan Province, China, Adam Reynolds, Siobhán Mattison, and colleagues compared gender differences in inflammation and hypertension among Mosuo societies. Blood samples and blood pressure measurements were collected from household members who were at least 16 years of age. Although matrilineal and patrilineal Mosuo exhibit different gender norms, they identify as the same ethnic group. In matrilineal Mosuo families, women inherit resources and are active in household decision-making; in patrilineal Mosuo families, men inherit resources and maintain household authority. In patrilineal communities, chronic inflammation in women was more than double the level observed in men. This pattern was reversed in matrilineal communities. In patrilineal communities, women exhibited higher rates of hypertension than men, whereas in matrilineal communities, they exhibited lower rates of hypertension than men. Matriliny was not, however, significantly associated with hypertension in men. The findings suggest that limiting women's autonomy and resources increases the risk of chronic diseases, according to the authors.

Article #20-14403: "Matriliny reverses gender disparities in inflammation and hypertension among the Mosuo of China," by Adam Z. Reynolds et al.

MEDIA CONTACT: Siobhán M. Mattison, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM; tel: 617-653-4670; e-mail: <>; Adam Z. Reynolds, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM; e-mail:


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