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Female competition, evolution, and the battle of the sexes

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  • Wooders, Myrna
  • Berg, Hugo van den

Abstract

As female primates carry and nurse the fetus, it naturally falls on them to rear the offspring. On the assumption that males are at least equally adept at obtaining food, it follows that they generate a surplus which they might either share with females or consume themselves. This choice lies at the heart of an evolutionary battle of the sexes. If females succeed in obtaining a large share of the surplus, there is little scope for size dimorphism between males and females; otherwise males can use the surplus to sustain larger and stronger bodies, which are advantageous in sexual competition with other males. Besides competing with males, females may compete with each other. Moreover, dependency may coincide with sexiness and such dependency can persist. This paper examines these ideas in a game-theoretic setting.

Suggested Citation

  • Wooders, Myrna & Berg, Hugo van den, 2001. "Female competition, evolution, and the battle of the sexes," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 620, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:620
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    File URL: https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/workingpapers/2008/twerp620.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Arthur J. Robson & Hillard S. Kaplan, 2003. "The Evolution of Human Life Expectancy and Intelligence in Hunter-Gatherer Economies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 150-169, March.
    2. Myrna Wooders & Hugo van den Berg, 2001. "The battle of the sexes over the distribution of male surplus," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 3(17), pages 1-9.
    3. Robson, Arthur J & Wooders, Myrna, 1997. "On the Growth-Maximizing Distribution of Income," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 38(3), pages 511-526, August.
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