Polygyny and Inheritance of Wealth
cited 313 times (per Google Scholar accessed on 11/29/2022)
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. That is, since “a male’s. reproductive success can be greatly enhanced by mating with many females, whereas a female can only be impregnated approximately once per year, regardless of the number of her mates,” and since “wealth is a decisive parameter for securing multiple mates in polygynous cultures,” “variance in male reproductive success is not simply a reflection of genetic variance within the sex, but is due in part to extraneous variables such as nongenetically determined resource status. It follows that ancestors (both male and female) would maximize the reproductive-success value of their transferable wealth by leaving it to offspring of the sex upon which it has the highest probability of having the largest positive effect”-usually males (Hartung 1976:607, 608,; 1977:336).