Domestication Alone Does Not Lead to Inequality: Intergenerational Wealth Transmission among Horticulturalists
We present empirical measures of wealth inequality and its intergenerational transmission among four horticulturalist populations. Wealth is construed broadly as embodied somatic and neural capital, including body size, fertility and cultural knowledge, material capital such as land and household wealth, and relational capital in the form of coalitional support and field labor. Wealth inequality is moderate for most forms of wealth, and intergenerational wealth transmission is low for material resources and moderate for embodied and relational wealth. Our analysis suggests that domestication alone does not transform social structure; rather, the presence of scarce, defensible resources may be required before inequality and wealth transmission patterns resemble the familiar pattern in more complex societies. Land ownership based on usufruct and low‐intensity cultivation, especially in the context of other economic activities such as hunting and fishing, is associated with more egalitarian wealth distributions as found among hunter‐gatherers.
Gurven, Michael, Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, Paul L. Hooper, Hillard Kaplan, Robert Quinlan, Rebecca Sear, Eric Schniter et al. (2010). "Domestication alone does not lead to inequality." Current Anthropology 51(1), 49-64.
University of Chicago Press/Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research
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This article was originally published in Current Anthropology, volume 51, issue 1, in 2010. DOI:10.1086/648587