Low Socioeconomic Status and Female‐Biased Parental Investment: The Mukogodo Example

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Hierarchies of wealth and ethnic prestige among East African herders present an opportunity to test the Trivers‐Willard hypothesis that low socioeconomic status should correlate with female biases in parental investment. The Mukogodo are at the bottom of such a regional hierarchy due to their poverty and low status as former hunters. As a result of these factors, Mukogodo men have lower polygyny rates than their neighbors, and Mukogodo women have higher mean reproductive success than Mukogodo men. The data fulfill the prediction that there should be a bias in parental investment in favor of daughters. The sex ratio of the 0–4 age group and the reported sex ratio at birth are both female‐biased. Although there is no evidence of infanticide, sons may be neglected in favor of daughters. Evidence from a dispensary and from a clinic run by a Catholic mission both show that the Mukogodo take daughters for treatment more often than they take sons. Also, daughters may be nursed longer than sons. 1989 American Anthropological Association

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)414-429
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Anthropologist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1989
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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