Kinship and sex-biased parental investment among the ethnic Mosuo of Southwest China

Siobhan M. Mattison, University of Washington

Son preference in China has been well-established, but its roots are less clear. In this paper, I argue that cultural preferences for offspring of a given sex are mediated by the prevailing socio-ecological context. In particular, I hypothesize that different kinship systems interact with their environments and individual characteristics to produce sex-preferences consistent with fitness maximization. Using census data collected in 2008, I will examine whether the Trivers-Willard hypothesis and/ or the Local Resource Enhancement hypothesis are able to predict sex-biased parental investment among Mosuo subscribing to patrilineal or matrilineal descent. If the data support the hypotheses, as initial analyses suggest, this will serve as one of the first examples of daughter-preference in China, and to progress our understanding of the factors mediating sex-preference in humans in general.

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Presented in Session 225: Intergenerational transfers of resources and reproductive trajectories (2)