, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 117-156

Birth order, sibling investment, and fertility among Ju/’Hoansi (!Kung)

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Abstract

Birth order has been examined over a wide variety of dimensions in the context of modern populations. A consistent message has been that it is better to be born first. The analysis of birth order in this paper is different in several ways from other investigations into birth order effects. First, we examine the effect of birth order in an egalitarian, small-scale, kin-based society, which has not been done before. Second, we use a different outcome measure, fertility, rather than outcome measures of social, psychological, or economic success. We find, third, that being born late in an egalitarian, technologically simple society rather than being born early has a positive outcome on fertility, and fourth, that number of older siblings and sibling set size are even stronger predictors of fertility, especially for males.

Patricia Draper is a professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Nebraska. Her research interests are in cross-cultural human development, evolutionary theory, hunter-gatherer society, and comparative family organization.
Raymond Hames is also a professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Nebraska. His research interests are in behavioral and evolutionary ecology, exchange systems, and tropical forest peoples.