Polygyny and Inheritance of Wealth

THE HYPOTHESIS to be tested here, that humans tend to transmit wealth to male descendants where polygyny is possible (Dr. Arbuthnott’s assertions notwithstanding), follows from considering the difference in within-sex variance in reproductive success between males and females (Darwin 1859, 1871) and the fact that in polygynous societies multiple wives are acquired by men who can afford them.

Paternity and Inheritance of Wealth

One of the oldest conjectures in anthropology is that men transfer wealth to their sister’s son when the biological paternity of their ‘own’ children is in doubt. Because maternity is certain, a man is necessarily related to his sister’s son and his brother. It is argued in this paper that relatedness to make heirs can be assured by passing wealth to sister’s sons or down a line of brothers matrilineally or patrilineally.

Matrilineal Inheritance

This paper explores a new analysis of previously published data showing a strong association between matrilineal inheritance and moderate to low probability of paternity, and an even stronger relationship between patrilineal inheritance and high probability of paternity.

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