a “new” form of dysgenesis?

r.s. says that i may have stumbled upon a hitherto un-noted form of dysgenesis. on the other hand, r.s. was drunk when he said so (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), so maybe i didn’t. (~_^)

but, just in case, here’s the scenario:

1) gender imbalance in population: more men than women.

2) gender imbalance greatest in upper classes, the members of which have, presumably, a higher iq than average (i.e. that’s why they’re in the upper classes).

3) to quote r.s.: “Because of the ‘one father one mother’ principle – the two sexes’ genes must be very near equally represented in the next generation – usually when a pop is 66% male and 33% female the females have ~2x the fitness of the males. Because in every generation, men /collectively/ have x1 offspring and women also collectively have x1 offspring. Less women than men means more offspring for women per capita, than for men.

4) put numbers 2 & 3 together, and you should get a dysgenic situation, no? to quote me: in india, however it is the well-off that are aborting girls more than boys. that can’t be good. sounds potentially dysgenic (since poorer women will be contributing more children per capita in the next generation).”

if you’re a population geneticist and that sounds right to you, tell all your friends! if it doesn’t sound right, well, never mind.

in any case, maybe the male:female numbers in a human population would never be “off” enough for this to have an effect. then again, things ain’t great in china and india.

previously: “dysgenics”

(note: comments do not require an email. happy happy hour!)



  1. I actually re-thought this later but wasn’t in the mood to write about it at the time. If there is gender imbalance in a whole population, it should actually be eugenic (ceteris paribus) because excess females, or much more especially excess males, will be cut out of reproduction. Naturally it’s the weakest or least desirable that get cut – whoever is sexually selected against are cut. If you want dorky and super-introverted men to reproduce well, or you want something else that doesn’t align with the sexual selection, then this isn’t optimal, but still it can in general be called eugenic. And in fact come to think of it I seem to recall seeing this pointed out somewhere before in reference to the excess males thing in Asia, by somebody in online HBDland.

    Of course, that only applies if mating is open across the society. If there exist pretty closed castes, why then matters will be quite the opposite, and greater gender imbalance in higher castes would indeed be dysgenic. This could even happen if a pop had pretty closed castes on a merely informal, ad hoc basis, though I don’t know of such a situation – and I’m pretty sure it could probably even apply if there are no discrete castes but just a continuum of statuses where people generally are reluctant to ‘marry down’ by more than a certain amount.

    However, in the absence of much closure or reluctance, discrete or continuous, excess males will just marry down, pushing the men at the bottom out, with eugenic consequences ceteris paribus.

    How closed the castes in India are, I certainly couldn’t say. There sure are a lot of them, some regional. I was just reading last night the long post Sailer has in his sidebar, in which an Indian-Western informant laid out all the castes and sub-castes for him at great length. He said much of the information he gave is oral and won’t be found in books, or not readily. I gather it is mildly taboo – talked about by everyone but not a proper subject to explore in print under one’s real name. I think Sailer and others were interested in the rather trackless question of what India’s IQ distro is like. The mean is not very high but there has been much speculation that the curve may be pretty far from gaussian, due to things like caste and regionality. Something comparable may have obtained in the European past, when it had something like semi-formal caste.

    I’ve had a couple close friends of Hindu origin, whose feelings were assimilationist. They occasionally showed me online personals ads where Hindu-Americans very often specified their caste, and if I recall(?), maybe also their complexion sometimes. All of which my friends mocked at, though not with any stern animus. Of course, these particular personals boards may have been rather more traditionalist on caste and so may not represent how the entire Hindu-American pop is.


  2. I remember the issue of gender imbalance being raised in The Red Queen by Matt Ridley, so I wasn’t too surprised to find out that the gender imbalance was greatest among the upper classes. He described a potential evolutionary impetus to have more males among high status families and females among low status families.

    As females are the “limiting agent” in reproduction (a tribe with one male and ten females will produce more children than one with ten males and one female), having a female is a “safe” option–she’ll probably have children. Males can potentially have more children and some males are wildly successful in that regard (think Uí Neíll in Ireland and Genghis Khan in central Asia) and furthermore, a male with higher status has the balance tipped in his favor in that regard.

    So, if you’re a low status family, you’re best off having a girl as a girl has a better chance of having children than a boy, but the tables are reversed for high status families, who get better odds with a boy. Ridley’s conjecture was that infanticide was a cultural approach to this evolutionary strategy and as high status families produced more offspring, the approach proliferates in the modern day as those living today have more high status ancestor than low status ancestors. I’d add (can’t remember if Ridley made this point) that high status cultures generally tend to become dominant over low status cultures so any practice of male infanticide may have been lost through a process of cultural dominance (conversely, female infanticide may have become overly popular because of cultural dominance).

    Regardless, it’s an interesting conjecture, and as RS stated above, I’m not sure it would be dysgenic as the scarce females provide a selection filter for the males. If Sikh men are for some reason prohibited from marrying non-Sikhs, then the practice might be somewhat counterproductive from the family’s point of view, but if there is some marriage of non-Sikh women, it may be the men of those castes that lose out from Sikhs practicing sex-selective abortion or infanticide.


  3. @r.a. – “Come to think of it, Sikhs have historically been tied to the military, so it wouldn’t surprise me if males were considered valuable for reasons beyond reproduction.”

    you guys! you’re always thinking in terms of military strategery (when you’re not thinking of other things, that is — nudge, nudge, wink, wink). i gotta start thinking more like a general — or at least a lieutenant. it’s interesting! and important, i think.


  4. R. Lynn made a comment about a similar situation in a Q&A that this case of more men to women might have an eugenic effect in China because a large number of men would not be able to conceive kids at all, and that the ones who do would have a higher socioeconomic status.

    You should run some tests on numerical models for sure, like H. Harpending did – even if they are wrong, or the premises are wrong. Graphs and numbers would make your blog more convincing (!).

    I don’t particularly like R. Lynn though. His values and personality seem vile, but that is off-topic.


  5. @not_my_subject [aka about_libertarianism_again] – “You should run some tests on numerical models for sure, like H. Harpending did – even if they are wrong, or the premises are wrong. Graphs and numbers would make your blog more convincing (!).”

    i probably won’t (in fact, chances are very close to 0% that i will), ’cause iq is reeeeally not my thing … but somebody should!


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