Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Ann Miles

Second Advisor

Dr. Vincent Lyon-Callo

Third Advisor

Dr. Laura Spielvogel

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


In the developing world today, tuberculosis (TB) accounts for 26% of avoidable deaths (Holmes et al 1998). Poverty is considered to be a main risk factor for TB, and since some estimates show that women make up 70% of the world's poor (Thorson and Diwan 1998:11), one might conclude that the incidence of TB worldwide would be much higher for women than men. However, reports reviewed in this thesis show the reverse to be true, with an adult annual male notification ratio for TB at 1.5 to 2.1 times higher than that of females. Both biological reasons and social factors have been presented by researchers in an attempt to explain this discrepancy, but no one set of literature has looked at both biological and social factors together.

In this literature-based thesis, I explored two disparate sets of literature: those that examine the biological differences in TB by sex and those that study the social context and cultural aspects of TB. After reviewing these studies, I do believe that there is most likely a slight biological resistance to tuberculosis for women. However, when studying the biological and social factors together, I feel that the social factors that work against women may be concealing a higher rate of TB in women than is being reported.

Included in

Anthropology Commons