Status drives men's reproductive success across non-industrial world

By Carol Clark | eScienceCommons | Sept. 27, 2016

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The reproductive benefits of status reached their peak in pre-modern empires. A genetic study, for instance, found that 8 percent of men in populations spanning Asia shared nearly identical Y-chromosome sequences with Mongolian ruler Genghis Khan (shown entering the city of Beijing).

The reproductive success of men in non-industrialized societies is closely tied to their social status, finds a new meta-analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The analysis looked at studies of 33 non-industrial societies from around the globe, including hunter-gatherers, nomadic pastoralists and agriculturalists.

“We were surprised to learn that the correlation held up for a range of societies and their different measures for status,” says Adrian Jaeggi, an anthropologist at Emory University focused on primate and human behavioral ecology. “It doesn’t matter whether a man is a better hunter, owns more land or more livestock – men with high social status had more children compared to men with low status.”

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