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Two decades after Latvia shook off Soviet communist rule, the country's women have survived the transition to capitalism better than men - they are better educated and are less likely to die young. But a high male mortality rate means for many women, it is hard to find a partner.
Dania and Zane are both single and have come to a cafe in the centre of Riga to chat about one of their favourite topics - the lack of decent men.
The two women are both 29, beautiful, stylish and well-educated, but it seems that in Latvia there are simply not enough eligible men to go round. It's just more interesting," she laughs. While more boys are born in Latvia than girls, the balance shifts dramatically in adulthood. In the busy entry hall of the University of Latvia, Riga, the gender imbalance is visible.
She says this means that women often find it harder to find a partner with an equal level of education. And by the time women want to settle down, men are dying younger and are four times more likely to commit suicide. Among the unders, there are almost 9, more men than women. But between the ages ofthere are almost 3, more women than men.
Women live 11 years longer than men, the highest disparity of life expectancy between the sexes in the EU. Where men do out women, however, is in Riga's many sports bars. Agris Rieksts, a year-old software engineer, says there is still a macho culture in Latvia which encourages risky behaviour, such as fast driving, smoking and especially heavy drinking.
But it is still there. Psychoanalyst Ansis Stabingis, who treats men for depression and suicidal tendencies, says Latvia's transition to capitalism 20 years ago suddenly put massive pressures on men to succeed financially.
And if they cannot meet those standards, they… fall into depression," Ansis says. Ansis believes that Latvian women sometimes prove more resilient when faced with a desperate situation. They are more likely than men to ask for professional help.
And with the highest rate of single mothers in the EU, he says women tend to keep going for the sake of their children. Husband material. But looking after a family alone can also make it more difficult to find a partner. Dace Ruksane has spent her career looking long and hard at the issue. She is a sex columnist, author, and editor-in-chief of one of the country's most successful women's magazines, Lilit.
The really beautiful girls are alone - if they are smart," Dace says. But a man, having all this choice, doesn't need to be very perfect. And if she doesn't suit him, he will get another.
Latvia country profile. Latvia economy reels in recession. Latvian government. Gender imbalance. More on this story. Published 18 January Published 4 February Related Internet Links.Lady looking sex Claire City
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