We’ve known for a while that girls have been maturing at a faster rate for much of the last 100 years, if not longer. Disease reduction and better nutrition are thought to be the biggest factors. But what about boys? Researchers have long thought they were maturing faster too. But lacking the obvious (monthly) data, the evidence proved tricky.
Now, a German researcher believes he’s found the answer by looking at, of all things, male teenage death rates. When girls hit puberty, they get their period. When boys hit puberty, they start doing stupid stuff, hence what’s called “The accident hump,” a spike in mortality rates that coincides with the peak of male hormone production during puberty. That hump it seems has been shifting to earlier and earlier in life.
The new study, by Joshua Goldstein, director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany, finds that the age of sexual maturity for boys has been decreasing by about 2.5 months each decade, since at least the middle of the 18th century.
--Matthew Philips, Freakonomics blog, on the dangers of male hormones