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Sex-ratio biasing towards daughters among lower-ranking co-wives in Rwanda

Lookup NU author(s): Thomas Pollet, Professor Daniel Nettle


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There is considerable debate as to whether human females bias the sex ratio of their offspring as a function of their own condition. We apply the Trivers-Willard prediction-that mothers in poor condition will overproduce daughters-to a novel measure of condition, namely wife rank within a polygynous marriage. Using a large-scale sample of over 95 000 Rwandan mothers, we show that lower-ranking polygynous wives do indeed have significantly more daughters than higher-ranking polygynous wives and monogamously married women. This effect remains when controlling for potential confounds such as maternal age. We discuss these results in reference to previous work on sex-ratio adjustment in humans.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pollet TV, Fawcett TW, Buunk AP, Nettle D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Biology Letters

Year: 2009

Volume: 5

Issue: 6

Pages: 765-768

ISSN (print): 1744-9561

ISSN (electronic): 1744-957X

Publisher: The Royal Society Publishing


DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2009.0394


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