View More View Less
  • 1 International Economics Section, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Genève, France
  • 2 International Economics Section, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Pavillon Rigot, Avenue de la Paix 11A, 1202, Genève, France
Restricted access

Abstract

This paper tests the generalized Trivers Willard hypothesis in the spirit of Kanazawa (2005), which predicts that parents with heritable traits that increase the relative reproductive success of males compared to females will have relatively more male than female offspring. We test whether taller mothers are more likely to have a male first-born using data on 400,302 mothers in a sample of Demographic Health and Surveys (DHS) from 46 developing countries. Despite using a plethora of statistical models that take into account the multi-level structure of the data, we find no strong evidence in favor of the hypothesis between and within communities, as well as on a country-by-country basis. Conversely, Andrews (1989)'s inverse power calculations suggest that the absence of a statistically small effect cannot be rejected.

  • D. W. K. Andrews 1989 Power in econometric applications Econometrica 57 5 1059 1090.

  • A. Cagnacci A. Renzi S. Arangino C. Alessandrini A. Volpe 2004 Influences of maternal weight on the secondary sex ratio of human offspring Human Reproduction 19 2 442 444.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • E. Z. Cameron 2004 Facultative adjustment of mammalian sex ratios in support of the Trivers-Willard hypothesis: evidence for a mechanism Proceedings of the Royal Society London B: Biological Sciences 271 1723 1728.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • G. C. Chacon-Puignau K. Jaffe 1996 Sex ratio at birth deviations in modern Venezuela: The Trivers-Willard effect Biodemography and Social Biology 43 3–4 257 270.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • M. S. Dama 2011 Sex ratio at birth and mortality rates are negatively related in humans PLoS ONE 6 8 e23792.

  • D. K. Deady M. J. L. Smith 2006 Height in women predicts maternal tendencies and career orientation Personality and Individual Differences 40 1 17 25.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • K. Denny 2008 Big and tall parents do not have more sons Journal of Theoretical Biology 250 4 752 753.

  • A. Gelman 2007 Letter to the editors regarding some papers of Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa Journal of Theoretical Biology 245 3 597 599.

  • Gelman, A. and Weakliem, D. (2007): Of beauty, sex, and power: Statistical challenges in estimating small effects. Unpublished, http://www.stat.columbia.edu/gelman/research/unpublished/power.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • M. Gibson R. Mace 2003 Strong mothers bear more sons in rural Ethiopia Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biology Letters 270 108 109.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • V. J. Grant 1994 Maternal dominance and the conception of sons British Journal of Medical Psychology 67 4 343 351.

  • V.J. Grant 1996 Sex determination and the maternal dominance hypothesis Human Reproduction 11 11 2371 2375.

  • V. J. Grant S. Yang 2003 Achieving women and declining sex ratios Human Biology 75 6 917 927.

  • J. A. Hausman J. Abrevaya F. M. Scott-Morton 1998 Misclassification of the dependent variable in a discrete-response setting Journal of Econometrics 87 239 269.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • S. Helle 2008 Height, weight, body mass index and offspring sex at birth in contemporary Finnish women Journal of Theoretical Biology 252 4 773 775.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • H. Jacoby 1995 The economics of polygyny in Sub-Saharan Africa: Female productivity and the demand for wives in Cote d'Ivoire Journal of Political Economy 103 5 938 971.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • W. H. James 1996 Evidence that mammalian sex ratios at birth are partially controlled by parental hormone levels around the time of conception Journal of Theoretical Biology 180 271 286.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • S. Kanazawa 2005 Big and tall parents have more sons: Further generalizations of the Trivers-Willard hypothesis Journal of Theoretical Biology 235 4 583 590.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • J. Lazarus 2002 Human sex ratios: Adaptations and mechanisms, problems and prospects I. Hardy Sex Ratios: Concepts and Research Methods Cambridge University Press Cambridge 287 311.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • O. Leimar 1996 Life-history analysis of the Trivers and Willard sex-ratio problem Behavioral Ecology 7 3 316 325.

  • F. Mathews P. J. Johnson A. Neil 2008 You are what your mother eats: evidence for maternal preconception diet influencing foetal sex in humans Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 275 1643 1661 1668.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • D. Nettle 2002 Women's height, reproductive success and the evolution of sexual dimorphism in modern humans Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 269 1503 1919 1923.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • E. Oezaltin K. Hill S. V. Subramanian 2010 Association of maternal stature with offspring mortality, underweight, and stunting in low- to middle-income countries The Journal of the American Medical Association 303 15 1507 1516.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • T.V. Pollet T. W. Fawcett A. P. Buunk D. Nettle 2009 Sex-ratio biasing towards daughters among lower-ranking co-wives in Rwanda Biology Letters 5 6 765 768.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • T. V. Pollet D. Nettle 2010 No evidence for the generalized Trivers-Willard hypothesis from British and rural Guatemalan data Journal of Evolutionary Psychology 8 1 57 74.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • I. J. Rickard 2008 Kanazawa's ‘Generalized Trivers-Willard Hypothesis’ and the heritability of offspring sex-ratio Journal of Evolutionary Psychology 6 255 260.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • C. S. Rosenfeld R. M. Roberts 2004 Maternal diet and other factors affecting offspring sex ratio: A review Biology of Reproduction 71 4 1063 1070.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • M. R. Rosenzweig K. I. Wolpin 2000 Natural experiments in economics Journal of Economic Literature 38 4 827 874.

  • B. C. Sheldon S. A. West 2004 Sex ratio variation in ungulate mammals American Naturalist 163 40 45.

  • A. D. Stein P. G. Barnett D. W. Sellen 2004 Maternal undernutrition and the sex ratio at birth in Ethiopia: evidence from a national sample Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 271 Suppl.3 S37 S39.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • R. M. Tamimi P. Lagiou L. A. Mucci C.-C. Hsieh H.-O. Adami D. Trichopoulos 2003 Average energy intake among pregnant women carrying a boy compared with a girl BMJ 326 7401 1245 1246.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • E. Voland 1984 Human sex-ratio manipulation: Historical data from a German parish Journal of Human Evolution 13 1 99 107.

  • R. J. Williams S. P. Gloster 1992 Human sex ratio as it relates to caloric availability Biodemography and Social Biology 39 3–4 285 291.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wooldridge, J. M. and Semykina, A. (2005): Estimating panel data models in the presence of endogeneity and selection: Theory and application. Department of Economics, Michigan State University, June.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • M. Zaldivar R. Lizarralde S. Beckerman 1991 Unbiased sex ratios among the Bar: An evolutionary interpretation Human Ecology 19 469 498.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation