Matriliny reverses gender disparities in inflammation and hypertension among the Mosuo of China

Adam Z. Reynolds, Katherine Wander, Chun Yi Sum, Mingjie Su, Melissa Emery Thompson, Paul L. Hooper, Hui Li, Mary K. Shenk, Kathrine E. Starkweather, Tami Blumenfield, Siobhán M. Mattison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Women experience higher morbidity than men, despite living longer. This is often attributed to biological differences between the sexes; however, the majority of societies in which these disparities are observed exhibit gender norms that favor men. We tested the hypothesis that female-biased gender norms ameliorate gender disparities in health by comparing gender differences in inflammation and hypertension among the matrilineal and patrilineal Mosuo of China. Widely reported gender disparities in health were reversed among matrilineal Mosuo compared with patrilineal Mosuo, due to substantial improvements in women’s health, with no concomitant detrimental effects on men. These findings offer evidence that gender norms limiting women’s autonomy and biasing inheritance toward men adversely affect the health of women, increasing women’s risk for chronic diseases with tremendous global health impact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30324-30327
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number48
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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