Monday, September 10, 2001

Census figures
show women
leading isles’
population growth

There still are more men than
women here, but the numbers
are getting closer

By Pat Omandam

You go, girl!

Hawaii was among only three states nationwide where the female population grew faster than the male population this past decade, according to the latest data from Census 2000.

"I think a lot of it is that women live longer," said Jeanne Ohta, interim director of the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women.

Art A U.S. Census Bureau report released today said the number of females in Hawaii increased 10.8 percent to 602,866 from 544,338 a decade ago. Meanwhile, the male population rose 7.9 percent to 608,671 in 2000 from 563,891 in 1990.

Overall, women nationwide outnumbered men by 5.3 million, even though the male population in this census grew by 13.9 percent to 138.1 million, slightly faster than the 12.5 percent increase to 143.4 million found in the female population.

Hawaii, which in 1990 had the third-highest male-female ratio at 103.6, slipped to fifth at a ratio of 101.0. Still, it remained one of only seven states where there are more men than women.

The male-female ratio is the number of males multiplied by 100 divided by the number of females. Alaska had the highest male-female ratio at 107.0, followed by Nevada (103.9), Colorado (101.4) and Wyoming (101.2).

Daisy Asuncion, statistician for the state Executive Office on Aging, said one reason why the female population grew at a faster rate than males in Hawaii is because females live longer.

"There's more males than females born each year (in Hawaii), but when you get up to age 52 or 53, you see an increase in more females in the population," Asuncion said.

Data from the state Office of Health Status Monitoring show of all Hawaii births in 1990, 10,481 were boys and 9,957 girls. Things did not change much in births a decade later, when there were 9,122 boys, compared with 8,391 girls.

Among older adults, women increasingly outnumbered men.

"Basically, females in Hawaii have a longer life expectancy, and males, their mortality rates in cancer, diabetes are higher than females," she said.

Risk is another factor. For example, Asuncion said the 1998 Hawaii State Data Book showed 291 people of both sex died of unintentional injuries in Hawaii. But of that amount, 209 were male, she said.

Meanwhile, Ohta said the gender gap will be important only if women participate in politics and use their collective power to make a difference. One way would be for women to vote in greater numbers.

Also, the data will help women push for more equity in job pay. Since women generally earn less and are in and out of the workplace more than men, that means they retire with smaller benefits, she said.

"It's like a double-edged sword," Ohta said. "They actually have less to live on, but they have to make it last longer."

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