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Human Nature

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 62–81 | Cite as

Resource Competition and Reproduction in Karo Batak Villages

  • Geoff Kushnick
Article

Abstract

When wealth is heritable, parents may manipulate family size to optimize the trade-off between more relatively poor offspring and fewer relatively rich ones, and channel less care into offspring that compete with siblings. These hypotheses were tested with quantitative ethnographic data collected among the Karo Batak—patrilineal agriculturalists from North Sumatra, Indonesia, among whom land is bequeathed equally to sons. It was predicted that landholding would moderate the relationship between reproductive rate and parental investment on one hand, and the number of same-sex siblings on the other, among boys but not girls. The predicted interaction effect was observed in interbirth intervals and immunizations, but only a trace of the effect was detected in age-five mortality. The study raises questions about the coevolution of human behavior and social structure.

Keywords

Interbirth intervals Patrilineality Landownership Inheritance Child health 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I thank the people of Doulu and Laubuluh villages for patiently enduring my prodding. I thank Eric Alden Smith (EAS), Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, Emily Brunson, Warren Miller, and three anonymous reviewers for providing useful suggestions. Fieldwork was funded by a National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant (0003951) awarded to me and EAS, and a “Seed” Grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Research in Indonesia was done under the auspices of the Indonesian Academy of Sciences (Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia, or LIPI) in Jakarta, with sponsorship from the late Amir Syamsu Nadapdap (Department of Anthropology, University of North Sumatra, Medan) and Aswatini Raharto (Center for Population and Manpower Studies, LIPI).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Washington, SeattleSeattleUSA

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