Why do mothers favor girls and fathers, boys? A hypothesis and a test of investment disparity

Ricardo Godoy*, Victoria Reyes-García, Thomas McDade, Susan Tanner, William R. Leonard, Tomás Huanca, Vincent Vadez, Karishma Patel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Growing evidence suggests mothers invest more in girls than boys and fathers more in boys than girls. We develop a hypothesis that predicts preference for girls by the parent facing more resource constraints and preference for boys by the parent facing less constraint. We test the hypothesis with panel data from the Tsimane', a foraging-farming society in the Bolivian Amazon. Tsimane' mothers face more resource constraints than fathers. As predicted, mother's wealth protected girl's BMI, but father's wealth had weak effects on boy's BMI. Numerous tests yielded robust results, including those that controlled for fixed effects of child and household.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-189
Number of pages21
JournalHuman Nature
Volume17
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2006

Keywords

  • Bolivia
  • Parental investment
  • Sex bias
  • Trivers-Willard
  • Tsimane'

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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