In popular culture, references to “man droughts” are mostly likely to come from Carrie Bradshaw-types, complaining about the lack of eligible billionaires to date. In Eastern Europe, though, the problem is far more literal.
This graph shows that men make up barely 45 per cent of the population of several European capitals.
Source: CityMetric Intelligence
In 2012, Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, had roughly 123 women for every 100 men; in Riga, over the border in Latvia, the figure was 127. By contrast, in Oslo, the European capital with the most equal gender balance, there were just 101 women for every 100 men. (Sorry, boys.)
This is partly down to differences in migration rates – but a depressingly large chunk of the explanation lies in life expectancy. In western countries, it’s normal for there to be very slightly more women than men: birth rates are roughly 50:50, but men tend to die younger and, in the average EU state, male life expectancy is approximately 93 per cent that of female life expectancy.
In the east, though, that number is far, far lower. In 2011, life expectancy at birth for Latvian women was 78.8. For Latvian men, it was 68.6, just 87 per cent as long. In Lithuania, where men live to 68.1 and women to 79.3, that ratio is 86per cent.
It’s easy to assume that figures like simply mean that there are fewer elderly men. They don’t. The gender disparity actually becomes noticeable around the age of 30, as, in the words of Latvian sociologist Baiba Bela, “car driving, alcoholism and accidents in the workplace” take their toll on the male population. So, upsettingly, do high suicide rates.
All this means that, in the capitals of Eastern Europe, there genuinely is a shortage of eligible young bachelors. Carrie should look elsewhere.
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