High reproductive variance among males

The sociobiology leading to the conclusion that women are ill suited to be part of the larger society, and should be subordinated to husbands and fathers, rests in large part on high reproductive variance among males in the ancestral environment, the environment of evolutionary adaption.

Now it obviously seems likely that reproductive variance among males was extreme – just look! And pretty much everyone in the manosphere agrees that it was, but until recently, I have not been able to find any good science pinning it down.

Now I have.

Throughout most of human history, almost all women reproduced but only one male in three reproduced. During the neolithic, from agriculture to the start of the bronze age (very rough dates) one male in seventeen reproduced – sixteen males died without children, one male had seventeen wives, concubines, and slave girls. After this roughly four thousand year period of very extreme inequality, it returned to its long term norm, one male in three – all races, all cultures, all societies, and it is been at roughly its long term norm for the past four thousand years or so.

47 Responses to “High reproductive variance among males”

  1. Augustina says:

    Did they study the mtDNA from that time period (neolithic) also? I understand that in general, mtDNA shows greater reproductive success for women. But I don’t know if the neolithic bottleneck was general or specific to YDNA.

    Here is a scenario: Tribe A goes to war against Tribe B and conquers them. All the males of Tribe B are killed and fertile women are carried off as concubines. For all we know about Tribe B, they may have had 90% of their men married with children. But we can’t tell through YDNA because all the male lineage was killed. A man’s genetic lineage isn’t limited to YDNA. In this case we have men with high reproductive success, but no way to tell through YDNA.

    I am not convinced that the neolithic bottleneck was limited to males. Major changes occurred in the way humans lived. Zoonotic diseases could have had a major impact, as they did when North American Indians were nearly wiped out upon contact with Europeans. That would affect women and men at the same rate.

    Or maybe men just don’t do well on a high carb diet.

    • jim says:

      Yes, they studied the mtDNA also – they compared mothers in female lineages against fathers in male lineages, and found far fewer fathers than mothers.

      Tribe A killing the men of tribe B and carrying off the women is not going to produce these results, unless every generation they slaughter tribes B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P and Q as well. This reduces to a scenario where women do the farming, and wandering gangs of men roam over large areas predating on the women and killing off male children.

  2. Augustina says:

    The paper doesn’t say only 1 in 17 men got to have sex with women. It says that only 1 in 17 Y chromosomes survived. Meaning, a man may have had a wife (or wives) and plenty of children, but no males that survived to reproduce. He may have had plenty of daughters that lived to reproduce, but examining Y DNA won’t show this.

    • jim says:

      Yes, but they are comparing the number of men that had sons, with the number of women that had daughters.

      So a woman that had only sons will not show, just as a man that had only daughters will not show. Cancels out. If strict monogamy had been imposed on absolutely everyone, the number of surviving Y chromosome lines would equal the number of surviving mtDNA lines.

      They are comparing the number of fathers we are descended from in the male line, with the number of mothers we are descended from in the female line. And it turns out that there are far fewer fathers in the male line, than mothers in the female line. Which implies enormously greater variance in male reproductive success.

    • jim says:

      No it does not say that one in seventeen Y chromosomes survived. Damn near all of them survived.

      It says that the rate of loss of Y chromosomes indicates an effective population male size one seventeenth of the effective female population size.

      Cochrane says that that was not necessarily one man in seventeen having seventeen wives. Maybe, says Cochrane, it was a hundred commoners having one child each, and one lord having a hundred children, but he did not do the math. I did do the math. Chochrane’s scenario does not give anything like the disparity between male lineages and female lineages.

      I tried various scenarios, and nothing makes much difference. They are all pretty brutal.

      It is not necessarily one man in seventeen having seventeen wives, but it is necessarily something mighty close to sixteen men out of seventeen having no wives. Any scenario consistent with the disparity is mighty brutal, and not a whole lot different from one man in seventeen having seventeen wives.

      Maybe someone can come up with a less brutal scenario, but if Cochran thinks he has done so, needs to flesh it out in considerably more detail.

  3. B says:

    Gibberish. Cochran (whose ideas you regurgitate in a partially digested state) explains in his blog that this does not mean that one man in 17 reproduced, but that there was a steady mild positive selection pressure for particular male lineages.

    I won’t even get into the pile of nonsense you’ve stacked on top of this misunderstanding. Aesir? Vanier? Pussy power laws?

    • jim says:

      Cochran is incorrect.

      There are a number of valid criticisms that could be made of the paper, but he fails to make them. If the paper is wrong, it is not wrong for the reasons he thinks it is.

      • B says:

        Yeah, I’m sure Cochran is wrong. Cochran is wrong about genetics, the rabbis are wrong about Judaism, Russian WW2 vets are wrong about WW2, only Jim is the One Oracle of Truth.

        If you had one man in 17 reproducing every generation from a starting population of 6 million (high end estimate for beginning of the Neolithic,) and every single man in that 6 million was unrelated, having a unique y-chromosome lineage, even assuming the one who reproduced had only one male child, within 5 generations you’d be left with 4 male chromosome lineages. Within 6, 1 male chromosome left in the world.

        • jim says:

          You are an idiot

          If one man in seventeen reproduces, this does not reduce the number of male lineages by seventeen every generation.

          Four thousand years is about a hundred and sixty generations. Would not have made a small dent dent in the number of male lineages.

          To drastically reduce the number of male lineages in a mere hundred and sixty generations, you would have to have the effective male population of about eighty.

          the rabbis are wrong about Judaism

          The rabbis claim Jewish law has not changed much since Deuteronomy. Kind of obvious that it has not only changed radically since Deuteronomy, it has changed radically in my lifetime.

          • B says:

            If one man in 17 reproduces, it’s obvious that the other 16 do not pass on their y-chromosome. What else?

            If you mean that at the end of 4000 years, 16 out of 17 y-chromosome lineages died out, that is not the same thing as saying that during that time, 16 out of 17 men would not reproduce.

            • jim says:

              If you think that anything like sixteen out of seventeen Y chromosome lineages could have died out in four thousand years, you are too ignorant of the subject matter to hold a coherent discussion.

          • peppermint says:

            » » one male in seventeen reproduced

            (☞゚∀゚)☞ ☜(゚ヮ゚☜)

            » If one man in 17 reproduces, it’s obvious that the other 16 do not pass on their y-chromosome. What else?

            » Within 6, 1 male chromosome left in the world.


          • B says:

            “During the neolithic, from agriculture to the start of the bronze age (very rough dates) one male in seventeen reproduced – sixteen males died without children, one male had seventeen wives, concubines, and slave girls.”

            What does this mean? What happened to the Y-chromosome lineages of the other 16? If you say that in every generation 16/17 men did not leave children, obviously the pool of Y-chromosomes would shrink by a factor of 17 every generation.

            • jim says:

              Nothing happened to the Y chromosome lineages of the other sixteen, since chances are they were all sons of the local big man, major landowner, lord, or King, whose Y chromosome lineage was fairly safe.

          • peppermint says:

            where’d your 47th chromosome come from? Did God write the Torah on it and give it to you to make you special?

          • B says:

            In that case, as Cochran point out, genetic diversity in general would be affected. Also pointed out here:

            In principle, a greater variance in male reproductive success than female reproductive success (Nf>Nm) could result in a lower than expected effective population size of the Y chromosome. In fact, previous studies have suggested that increased variance in offspring number has reduced the effective population size in human males versus females and might explain the reduced variability on the paternally inherited Y chromosome [4], [13]. To test the hypothesis that sex-biased demography explains the decreased Y chromosome diversity, we modeled increasingly skewed sex ratios using coalescent simulations, taking into account the complex demography of the populations analyzed here (Figure 1; Table S3; Methods). We use the case where Nm = Nf as the null model. As expected, decreases in the male effective population sizes (Nm/Nf<1) decrease expected Y diversity. However, we find that the reduction in the male effective population size required to explain the observed Y chromosome data, predicts levels of normalized autosomal, X and mtDNA diversity that are not consistent with the data in these markers (Figure 1; Table S3). This effect can also be illustrated by considering ratios of normalized diversity in each type of marker relative to autosomes. A skew in the sex ratio large enough to explain the observed reduction in Y/autosome diversity would also cause increases in X/autosome and mtDNA/autosome diversity that are incompatible with observations (Figure 1; Table S4). Thus, by analyzing all classes of genomic sequences, we are able to reject extreme sex-biased processes as the sole explanation for patterns of low observed Y variability.

      • peppermint says:

        most men having no chance at reproducing is how you get the ant-like hive mind behavior Spandrell talks about among the chinks (the word chink is derived from chitin, which forms insect exoskeletons), and the uncontrollable sexual aggression of the niggers. Bill Cosby couldn’t help himself, he was biologically programmed to take advantage of those White women, and only a White man would even entertain the notion that a man wouldn’t take advantage.

        • B says:

          Sorry, I was attempting to have grown up talk over here. Can you maybe go outside for a little while and play with your chan friends?

    • peppermint says:

      pussy power laws is a pretty sound hypothesis

  4. Michael says:

    obviously war causes this but is not the best sieve. its moot now we will be modifying our genes really soon. the harder question is how to cull the herd before that time

  5. […] deft passing of Cathedral fitness tests. And late-breaking science reporting from Jim: High reproductive variance among males, in which the estimate of the total number of males who ever reproduced has been lowered to 1/3 of […]

  6. This agrees with what I’ve said about claims of dysgenic evolution based on claims that less educated or poorer women have higher fertility than more educated or well off ones. Even if the claims of excess fertility are stipulated for the sake of argument, they still ignore the dominant factor in human evolution, males.

    • Peppermint says:

      You’re the first person I’ve heard claim that PUAs reproducing isn’t dyscivic. If the title was 1/3 of the men have 2/3 of the children, I’d reply #occupyyourmom, but I thought we thought of ourselves as snowy owls, not niggers.

      I shouldn’t have to say this in 2015, but the way to turn into niggers is to reproduce like niggers. Do you believe in souls or some such faggotry?

      • I wasn’t making a moral value judgement. Just pointing out that sexual selection is a eugenic force and a powerful one in human evolution.

        • peppermint says:

          sure. Any kind of selection is eugenic, where eugenic is defied as effectively selective. And eugenic forces are the only forces in evolution.

          • jim says:

            Unfortunately, selecting for the kind of males favored by women is probably not selecting for the kind of males able and willing to maintain technological civilization.

          • Jim,
            I think you’ve assented to or maybe even asserted that females nowadays (since the pill and modernity) distinguish their sex behavior from their selection of father sperm behavior,
            and you haven’t presented any reason other than your anecdotal experience with women’s sex behavior to think their selection is anything but strongly eugenic. Since the sex behavior and the mating behavior are so decoupled its unclear why you assert the mating behavior is dysgenic.

            I expect the sexual selection effects today are quite eugenic. Women can potentially select from a large number of males for their sperm. Some of them go to sperm banks, and select guys 5 or 6 standard deviations up in IQ, nobel laureates or the like. If one male in 15 reproduces, the average male reproducing is like 1.5 sigma ahead of the mean in propensity to reproduce, which might or might not be directly related to propensity to contribute to technological civilization. It might just mean inherited wealth, by virtue of being first born. But women nowadays spend decades searching for the right guy, evaluating large numbers, and may choose to get pregnant if they find someone of adequate appeal to their sexual selection urge. They can easily find guys many SD above average to father their kids if they are in fact desirous of doing so.

            • jim says:

              and you haven’t presented any reason other than your anecdotal experience with women’s sex behavior to think their selection is anything but strongly eugenic.

              Intelligent, high status women have poor fertility. The higher a woman’s status, the less attractive she finds any real life male. Leads in romance novels tend to be impossibly superalpha god like men who are incredibly masculine, whereas the heroine is usually something from Og Shaggoth that you would have to be pretty desperate to stick your dick into on a dark night. I occasionally check out romance novels to see how far females have degenerated, and the last one I skimmed, I think that if I met the heroine in real life, I would kill it with fire.

              Males have eugenic fertility in that smart males with low time preference have more kids, but they don’t have a lot more kids, indicating that female selection is eugenic, but not all that strongly eugenic.

          • peppermint says:

            » distinguish their sex behavior from their selection of father sperm behavior

            well if women would be able to completely separate the two, there wouldn’t be a problem, would there?

            but then what exactly is the point of sex behavior? they _do_ care about it more than they care about their yoga, which is in fact sex behavior, and their jogging.

          • Steve Johnson says:

            “Women can potentially select from a large number of males for their sperm. Some of them go to sperm banks, and select guys 5 or 6 standard deviations up in IQ, nobel laureates or the like.”


            Yep, just hop down to the old sperm bank that has 6 stdv sperm – ya know all those 190 IQ guys donating sperm rather than not existing.

            Maybe she can pick out a man who’s 7’5″ too?

      • Michael says:


      • Prince of the Blood says:

        What are you trying to say? Ignoring the red pill about women is ignoring truth. Game isn’t “acting like niggers”. Game is flirtation as it has always been. The only thing different these days is that peasants have game whereas before the 19th century peasants of both sexes were bound by many legal and religious codes that kept them relatively stable in a single family. Aristocrats and wealthy professionals mostly didn’t have to worry about those. They could do what they want and did. It is best for civilization that the sexuality if elite males be relatively unrestrained whilst the sexuality of women and lower caste males be restrained.

  7. narmno says:

    Nitpick: You say the study is the first of its kind, but in 2004 a DNA analysis concluded “maybe 80% of women but only 40% of men reproduced,” across all the populations that were studied. The methodology was similar, from what I understand– infer effective population size by looking at the variance in Y-chromosome DNA versus mitochondrial DNA (Google ‘what percentage of males reproduce’ to find references). Not as detailed as the recent paper, but matches the conclusions.

    It’s also interesting to look at how the effective population sizes evolved between different ethnicities [1], but I don’t know how to read the graphs (though one thing that stood out was the apparent parity in East Asia between male/female population sizes). I actually have no idea how they figured out the 17 babies figure, and that would be interesting to learn.

    [1] Figure S4A here http://genome.cshlp.org/content/suppl/2015/02/18/gr.186684.114.DC1/Supplemental_Figures.pdf (Are hyperlinks allowed on this blog’s comments?)

    • Alrenous says:


      “Genetic evidence for unequal effective population sizes of human females and males” – link at site is broken, but as a search,


      “Our estimate of the mutation rate is based on the observed sequence divergence of 1.59% between humans and chimpanzee divided by twice the divergence time in years since the split of the human and chimpanzee lineages (which we assume to have occurred 6 MYA). Based on this calculation, we estimate the mutation rate for the NRY to be 1.33 × 10−9 mutations per site per year. It should be kept in mind that errors in estimates of the mutation rate will have a linear influence on estimates of the TMRCA. Our present estimate for the NRY is somewhat faster than the 1.03 × 10−9 value (modified here to reflect a 6-Myr human-chimpanzee divergence) of Thomson et al. (2000) from three genic regions.”

      From LW, because I don’t care to resist the urge to mock Douglas Knight:
      “Yes, the common ancestor is sensitive to single observations. It is idiotic to base conclusions on such non-robust statistics, and indeed, Wilder et al do not.”

      It is stupid, but Wilder in fact does exactly this.

      The MRCA estimate is based on many assumptions such as the relative base mutation rates between mDNA and NRY. Wilder et al then ran it through a statistical model to guess at what kind of populations would lead to that distribution. In other words there’s a Pisan tower of assumptions going into this conclusion.
      That said, while it’s not robust, it won’t be the opposite of true. Eratosthenes didn’t conclude Earth was a cube.

      It’s worth mentioning the raw data, which is very unlikely to be false. That is, NRY varies much less than mtDNA per site across the population.

      “These lines of reasoning lead us to postulate that sex-specific demographic processes are the most likely causes of the observed discrepancy in the TMRCAs of mtDNA and the NRY. To date, processes that could generate this pattern in humans have received relatively little attention.”

      That is, nobody much is thinking about this so selection is weak so errors are likely to accumulate.

      E.g, as I mentioned above, this is measuring male lines, not male surviving descendents. Obviously there are many important details in genetics which I’m not aware of, and as these are unknown unknowns my conclusion isn’t robust either.
      However, with an roughly constant population there will be on average 0.5 male and 0.5 female descendants per male, meaning they will on average transmit 50% of their NRY. You better find there’s roughly half as much variation.
      To be explicit, each woman will have the same ratios, but as males have mtDNA too, they will meaning they will on average transmit 100% of their mtDNA.

      I will of course glance over the rest of Wilder’s paper to look for disconfirmation.

  8. Alrenous says:

    What’s the exact percentage of women?

    The title suggests Y-chromosome analysis. I suspect they’re looking at how many Y chromosomes survived, which means looking at how many male lines survived (reproductively speaking) rather than how many popped their cherry specifically. This is really a lower bound – though of course the upper bound can’t be that far away.

    Though given sex ratios, the surviving-descendents number may be exactly double. 2/3rd and 1/9, respectively. 2/3 fits with previous estimates and with Clark’s numbers. 1/9 is still awful without being ridiculous.

    • Alrenous says:

      Also, note that -average- 1:9 polygamy means there’s some men with one wife, meaning there must be some other man with 18 to make up for that. Power laws being what they are, there’s three men with one wife and that other guy with over thirty to skew the average.

    • Alrenous says:

      Also, while we’re talking about polygamy, Mormons show http://www.theguardian.com/science/2011/feb/27/mormon-polygamists-fruit-fly that Bateman’s second principle applies to humans. Female reproductive success declines as their mate’s marital success increases. I suspect because, especially in humans, men’s contribution to childraising, while imbalanced, isn’t exactly 0%.

  9. Korth says:

    The gap must have been somewhat tighter west of the Hajnal line, where late marriage and clerical celibacy ensured that a good 15-20% of fertile-age women stayed single in every generation.

  10. peppermint says:

    » implying that Karl Marx was right about the sexual mores of Victorian England and Margaret Mead was right about the sexual mores of Samoa

    » bastards, bastards everywhere

  11. Mark Minter says:

    This is pretty much the theme in the polygamy chapter in the Red Queen. He gives ample statistical evidence that from the invention of agriculture until the industrial revolution, but particularly in these bronze age cultures, polygamy was the norm. Even after the birth of Christianity and the imposition of monogamous marriage, there still existed a highly informal polygamous reality.

    He states that really only with democracy and capitalism has the ability of rank and file men to band together to repress the dominant power holding male brought about this idea that “There is a boy for every girl”.

    So then the angry statements from the manosphere now say “No there isn’t.”

    And there probably will not be for a very long long time. It would take outlawing of birth control and abortion, and providing some male preference in hiring, at least removal of coercion to hire females.

    • jim says:

      Looks to me that the one in three ratio is natural for our species – social institutions can cause a deviation from it, but they are pushing shit up hill.

  12. Hidden Author says:

    Though I did not pay to go through the paywall, I can tell you that a shift in the reproductive variance of males four thousands years ago could not have been world-wide: Some cultures remained hunter-gatherers, some cultures had livestock, some were peasants, others were the core ethnic groups within powerful empires. The conditions were too different for a shift to the same everywhere.

    • jim says:

      World Wide among those sampled, perhaps because hunter gathereres were largely eradicated by farmers.

      My guess would be that the Aesir fought the Vanir to a peace that favored the Aesir, because every man among the Aesir fought, whereas only one man in seventeen among the Vanir fought. The resulting blended aristocratic society was closer to the ancient human norm of one male in three getting to genuinely participate – and subsequently conquered the world, returning us to ancient aristocratic norms, where one man in three gets a go, rather than one man in seventeen. Of course, that is a wild assed guess, and we will need a lot more data before there is much evidence for or against that wild assed guess.

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