Conventional wisdom and sociological arguments have claimed that societies with more men than women, such as China, will become more violent, but a new study has found that a male-biased sex ratio does not lead to more crime.
Rates of rape, sexual assault and homicide are actually lower in societies with more men than women, the study found, and evolutionary theories predicting that when males outnumber females, males will compete more vigorously for the limited number of mates don’t hold up either.
“Here, we untangle the logic behind the widely held notion that in human societies where men outnumber women, there will be more violence,” said anthropology professor Monique Borgerhoff Mulder of U.C. Davis, co-author of the study.
The anthropologists who conducted this study took their lead from recent developments in evolutionary theory. These new ideas challenge the claim that when in abundance males will necessarily resort to violent competition.
It is true that most perpetrators and victims of violence are men. “It isn’t surprising that arguments of more men leading to more violence dominate discussions, this could create such an effect,” said Ryan Schacht, a co-author of the paper and doctoral researcher at UC Davis. “But the evidence does not support a relationship between violence and a short supply of women.”
The reason for this unexpected outcome, the authors said, has something to do with supply and demand.
Videography by Karen Nikos-Rose/UC Davis
“You may actually adjust your behavior according to the circumstances,” said Kristin Liv Rauch, a postdoctoral researcher and co-author of the paper. “When men are abundant, rather than rare, they often switch their strategy to compete in nonviolent rather than violent ways. They tend to pursue females in more of a courtship manner that would lead to long-term relationships and marriage, in an attempt to secure a partner in a depleted market.”
They believe their study has important policy implications. For example, “tough on crime” policies that incarcerate increasing numbers of men might be contributing to higher rates of violence, rather than alleviating them, the authors say.
Future studies might investigate the particular forms of violence that are associated with imbalanced sex ratios, and whether interventions are available that do not further exaggerate asymmetries in the availability of opposite sex mates, the authors said.
Article:Ryan Schacht , Kristin Liv Rauch, Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, 'Too many men: the violence problem?', Trends in Ecology & Evolution Volume 29, Issue 4, April 2014, Pages 214–222, DOI:10.1016/j.tree.2014.02.001. Source: UC Davis
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Thank You Guido
- Replacing Exercise With A Pill
- VB-111 Gene Therapy Doubles Survival In Recurrent Glioblastoma
- September 24th, 2015 - Just Another Day In Space - Asteroid Flybys, "Blood Moons" And Armageddon Demystified
- Public Health vs. EU's Tobacco Product Directive: The Battle is Joined
- Online Market For Invasive Plants Is Booming
- Jesuits As Science Missionaries
- "Oh, are you talking about the numbers? The 24 hours with a set tilt of 23.44 degrees (which..."
- "Robert,'WHAT embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but absence of self-criticism.'and'So..."
- "Thanks Robert. I very much appreciate your reply. I read it carefully. It certainly would be classified..."
- "Hi Joe, I've been traveling and limited access because I left my keyboard behind and had to buy..."
- "Well Robert, To put it another way, show me in a compelling manner how this precise system came..."