MAY 13, 1955
NEW YORK—Few people may have noticed a little item in the newspapers the other day under a dateline from Washington. The Population Reference Bureau says that since 1900 the proportion of persons over 65 has doubled from four to eight percent. There also has been a steady increase in the proportion of women, particularly in the age groups above 20.
"In terms of voting power, ownership of land and corporate equities the U.S. could be seen on the road toward a gerontomatriarchy—, control by aging females," the bureau said.
This will make us smile, particularly in a country where for so many years women were scarce and the young man held the important position in our population.
This fact, however, should give us a little food for thought. Why do women live longer than men? They are the "weaker" sex, they bear the children and, therefore, should wear out more quickly since we no longer live in a time when men must run the daily risks of hunting for their food and having to defend by physical prowess their homes on a day-by-day basis.
Is the answer perhaps that women, through the ages, have had to learn how to conserve their strength and to build resistance?
More and more in the modern world men have been obliged to set their goal for success in a competitive atmosphere. One may be under as great a strain when sitting quietly at a desk as in the days when one went out hunting to sustain himself. So, since men must work every minute in order to excel and must work at high tension in constant competition with all those around them, men often die earlier than do women.
The modern killers are heart disease and cancer and brain hemorrhage—all of which represent the pace at which modern man lives. Transportation and communication have so greatly increased in speed that man can cover more ground and do more than he could in years gone by, yet he stood up better apparently under hard physical labor than seems to be the case under the modern type of strain.
I wonder if there is not something in teaching children how to acquire an inner calm. It seems to me that in some of the books written in days gone by there was more emphasis on serenity. It may be that we must learn how to have inner serenity in spite of outward speed and activity.
Certainly, we should find ways of keeping a better balance in our population, for whether in youth or in age I think too great a predominance of one or the other sex is a distinct drawback. Our doctors had better start finding out why men wear out faster than women and they had better keep them alive for the happiness and contentment of all.
(Distributed by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)