Testing evolutionary theories of discriminative grandparental investment

Ralf Kaptijn, Fleur Thomese, Aart C. Liefbroer, Merril Silverstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study tests two evolutionary hypotheses on grandparental investments differentiated by the child's sex: the paternity uncertainty hypothesis and the Trivers-Willard hypothesis. Data are from two culturally different countries: the Dutch Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (n=2375) and the Chinese Anhui Survey (n=4026). In the Netherlands, grandparental investments are biased towards daughters' children, which is in accordance with the paternity uncertainty hypothesis. But in China, grandparental investments are biased towards sons' children, which is in conflict with the paternity uncertainty hypothesis. This study found no support for the Trivers-Willard hypothesis. These results raise doubts over the relevance of paternity uncertainty as an explanation of a grandparental investment bias towards daughters' children that is often found in Western populations. The results suggest that discriminative grandparental investments are better understood as the outcome of cultural prescriptions and economic motives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-310
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Biosocial Science
Volume45
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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