I am saddened and sickened to learn of the horrific events in Norway today. As I write this, the news is that a total of 80 have died, 7 in the bombing in Oslo and the rest, presumably, at the youth camp in Utoya Island. This is an unimaginable tragedy for the parents of these children and would be wherever such an event occurred. The impact on aggregate mortality just happens to be particularly acutely noticeable in a low-mortality country such as Norway. I look at Norwegian mortality data quite a bit because I use mortality change in Norway as an example in at least two classes I teach. To give a sense of what an enormous impact 80 violent deaths have on the overall mortality of a relatively small, and very low-mortality country like Norway, I plotted the number of deaths by age on semi-logarithmic axes for the latest year for which we have data (2009). I then added the 73 deaths (in red), assuming for simplicity that they all fell on 16 year-olds (since it was a youth camp). While clearly not true, this allows us to compare the scale of this mass murder with the pace of death in Norway as a whole.
It is plain to see that, beyond the clear impact such an event has on the families directly effected, this senseless act has a substantial effect on the aggregate pattern of mortality for the entire country of Norway.
I finally received the pdf version of my recently published paper with a 2006 publication date. My grad student, Brodie Ferguson, and I used demographic data from the Colombia censuses of 1973, 1985, 1993, and 2002 to calculate the magnitude of the marriage squeeze felt by women in Colombia. The protracted civil conflict in Colombia means that there has been a burden of excess young male mortality in that country for at least 30 years (the measurement of which is the subject of a paper soon to be submitted). This excess male mortality means that there are far more women entering the marriage market than there are men, putting the squeeze on women (i.e., making it more difficult for them to marry). Our results show that in the most violent Colombian departments at the height of the violence (1993), the marital sex ratio was as low at 0.67. This means for every 100 men entering the marriage market, there were 150 women. This is a truly stunning number. We discuss some of the potential societal consequences of these incredibly unbalanced sex ratios. Two very important phenomena that we think are linked to these extraordinary sex ratios are: (1) the high rates of consensual unions (i.e., non-married couples “living together”) in Colombia and (2) the pattern of female-biased rural-urban migration.
The citation to the paper (even though it came out in 2008) is:
Jones, J. H., and B. D. Ferguson. 2006. The Marriage Squeeze in Colombia, 1973-2005: The Role of Excess Male Death. Social Biology. 53 (3-4):140-151.