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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Primogeniture, Monogamy, and Reproductive Success in a Stratified Society


This paper explores the workings of stratified societies in which there is primogeniture and where the nobility practice monogamous marriage with a double standard of sexual fidelity. We model a simple stratified society and define the reproductive values of the male and female nobility relative to that of commoners. We then explore implications of the hypothesis that preferences have evolved to favor maximization of reproductive value. The hypothesis is tested against fragmentary data from ancient civilizations and quite detailed information about the British aristocracy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

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