Hunting and Nuclear Families

Kristen Hawkes, J. O'Connell, Nicholas Blurton Jones, Duran Bell, Rebecca Bliege Bird, Douglas Bird, Raymond Hames, Paula Ivey, Debra S Judge, Alexander Kazankov, Monica Minnegal, Craig Stanford, GW Wenzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

144 Citations (Scopus)


Hadza hunter-gatherers display economic and social features usually
assumed to indicate the dependence of wives and children
on provisioning husbands and fathers. The wives and children of
better Hadza hunters have been found to be better-nourished,
consistent with the assumption that men hunt to provision their
families. Yet, as is common among foragers, the Hadza share
meat widely. Analyses of meat-sharing data confirm that little of
the meat from large prey went to the hunter’s own household.
These analyses also show that neither a man’s hunting success
nor the time he spent hunting made any difference in how much
meat his family got from the kills of others. Here we address
questions posed by this set of observations. What explains the
better nutrition of the children of better hunters if they did not
get differential rations of meat? If better hunters got no more
meat for their effort and poorer hunters were not punished with
less, what incentive could account for the continuing disproportionate
contribution that some men made to the group’s nutrition?
If women were not dependent on their husband’s hunting
success for meat, an obvious incentive for women to marry
hunters disappears. We briefly consider the implications of these
patterns for the evolution of marriage and nuclear families.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-709
JournalCurrent Anthropology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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