Human Nature

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 280–317 | Cite as

Household and Kin Provisioning by Hadza Men



We use data collected among Hadza hunter-gatherers between 2005 and 2009 to examine hypotheses about the causes and consequences of men’s foraging and food sharing. We find that Hadza men foraged for a range of food types, including fruit, honey, small animals, and large game. Large game were shared not like common goods, but in ways that significantly advantaged producers’ households. Food sharing and consumption data show that men channeled the foods they produced to their wives, children, and their consanguineal and affinal kin living in other households. On average, single men brought food to camp on 28% of days, married men without children at home on 31% of days, and married men with children at home on 42% of days. Married men brought fruit, the least widely shared resource, to camp significantly more often than single men. A model of the relationship between hunting success and household food consumption indicates that the best hunters provided 3–4 times the amount of food to their families than median or poor hunters. These new data fill important gaps in our knowledge of the subsistence economy of the Hadza and uphold predictions derived from the household and kin provisioning hypotheses. Key evidence and assumptions backing prior claims that Hadza hunting is largely a form of status competition were not replicated in our study. In light of this, family provisioning is a more viable explanation for why good hunters are preferred as husbands and have higher fertility than others.


Hadza Hunter-gatherers Food sharing Household provisioning Costly signaling Show-off hypothesis 



This research was made possible by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Leakey Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the Harvard Department of Human Evolutionary Biology. We thank the Tanzanian Commission on Science and Technology for permission to conduct this research. We also thank Dr. Audax Mabulla, Chris Daborn, Claire Porter, Alyssa Crittenden, Johannes and Lena Kleppe, Daudi Peterson, Christian and Nani Schmelling, and Happy Msofe for their help in the field. We appreciate the readers who provided helpful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript, including Richard Wrangham, Karen Kramer, Douglas Bird, Rebecca Bliege Bird, Kristen Hawkes, James O’Connell, Jeremy Koster, and three anonymous reviewers. Our deepest gratitude is to the Hadza for their cooperation.

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Division of Biological AnthropologyCambridge UniversityCambridgeUK

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