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Primogeniture, Monogamy and Reproductive Success in a Stratified Society

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  • Theodore C. Bergstrom

Abstract

This paper explores the workings of stratified societies in which there is pri- mogeniture and where the nobility practice monogamous marriage with a double standard of sexual fidelity. The paper models a simple stratified society and defines the reproductive values of male and female nobility relative to that of commoners. It goes on to explore implications of the hypothesis that preferences have evolved to favor maximization of reproductive value. This hypothesis is tested against fragmentary data from ancient civilizations and quite detailed information about the British aristocracy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This work has been heavily in uenced by theoretical discussions and empirical evidence found in the writings of an anthropologist, Laura Betzig, and an historian Lawrence Stone.

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Paper provided by ESRC Centre on Economics Learning and Social Evolution in its series ELSE working papers with number 044.

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Handle: RePEc:els:esrcls:044

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  1. Rogers, Alan R, 1994. "Evolution of Time Preference by Natural Selection," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 460-81, June.
  2. Ted Bergstrom, . "On the Evolution of Altruistic Ethical Rules for Siblings," Papers _023, University of Michigan, Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Theodore C. Bergstrom, 1995. "Economics in a Family Way," Labor and Demography 9507002, EconWPA, revised 06 Feb 1996.
  2. Deby Cassill, 2003. "Skew Selection: Nature Favors a Trickle-Down Distribution of Resources in Ants," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 83-96, May.
  3. Bertocchi, Graziella, 2003. "The Law of Primogeniture and the Transition from Landed Aristocracy to Industrial Democracy," CEPR Discussion Papers 3723, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Eric D. Gould & Omer Moav & Avi Simhon, 2008. "The Mystery of Monogamy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 333-57, March.
  5. Bergstrom, T., 1995. "Evolution of Bihavior in Family Games," Papers 95-08, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  6. Maristella Botticini & Aloysius Siow, 2000. "Why Dowries?," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0200, Econometric Society.
  7. Aloysius Siow & Xiaodong Zhu, 2002. "Differential Fecundity and Gender-Biased Parental Investments in Health," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(4), pages 999-1024, October.
  8. Ian Smith, 2003. "The Law and Economics of Marriage Contracts," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(2), pages 201-226, 04.

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