For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Household and kin provisioning by Hadza men"

by Wood, Brian M; Marlowe, Frank W (2013)


We use data collected among Hadza hunter-gatherers between 2005 and 2009 to examine hypotheses about the causes and consequences of men's foraging and food sharing. We find that Hadza men foraged for a range of food types, including fruit, honey, small animals, and large game. Large game were shared not like common goods, but in ways that significantly advantaged producers' households. Food sharing and consumption data show that men channeled the foods they produced to their wives, children, and their consanguineal and affinal kin living in other households. On average, single men brought food to camp on 28% of days, married men without children at home on 31% of days, and married men with children at home on 42% of days. Married men brought fruit, the least widely shared resource, to camp significantly more often than single men. A model of the relationship between hunting success and household food consumption indicates that the best hunters provided 3-4 times the amount of food to their families than median or poor hunters. These new data fill important gaps in our knowledge of the subsistence economy of the Hadza and uphold predictions derived from the household and kin provisioning hypotheses. Key evidence and assumptions backing prior claims that Hadza hunting is largely a form of status competition were not replicated in our study. In light of this, family provisioning is a more viable explanation for why good hunters are preferred as husbands and have higher fertility than others.


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