EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium
Volume 5, Issue 2, 2013
The polygyny paradox: Several male biased populations exhibit a high prevalence of polygyny
Bradley E. Hassinger & Daniel J. Kruger
Polygyny is the most common mating system in mammals and is widespread in human cultures. The population sex ratio shapes human social patterns and mating strategies. When women are scarce relative to men, one might imagine that a relative surplus of men would predict a greater presence and extent of polyandry, as one woman could find more than one husband. However, we predict that high sex ratios, indicating a relative surplus of men, will instead be more likely to be associated with a greater extent of polygyny, where some men have multiple wives. Although the opposite pattern is numerically intuitive, we base our prediction on the divergence in reproductive strategies between men and women. These sex differences shape how men and women leverage advantages associated with numerical scarcity for different reproductive goals. In support of our hypothesis, five countries with high proportions of men to women (ages 15-64) and a combined population of 33 million individuals have relatively high levels of polygyny, even when controlling for GDP per capita. We demonstrate the power of and evolutionary theoretical framework for understanding behavioral, social, and demographic patterns.
How to cite this article:
Hassinger, B. E. & Kruger, D. J. (2013). The polygyny paradox: Several male biased populations exhibit a high prevalence of polygyny. EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium, 5(2), 131-137.