guess the population!

see if you can guess what population the people described below belong to! (^_^)

don’t cheat!! don’t google the text to find out. i’ll know if you do….

bonus points for guessing population X’s mating patterns. (~_^)

update: solution here in the comments. DON’T LOOK at the comments if you wanna have a guess! (^_^)

from a governmental agency publication (1983):

“Although the group solidarity of [population X] is strong, individual achievement is highly valued. Members of the group are expected to exercise individual initiative in the pursuit of economic goals. Individual acquisition of economic resources including private property, money, and other remuneration is stressed. Other cultural characteristics of the group that have been invaluable to their entrepreneurial skills are discussed below….

[T]he social status of an individual in this ethnic group is not rigidly fixed; individuals — male or female — can improve their condition in life and are expected to do so. Commercial and business success is one of the most highly valued routes to prestige and status. [population X’s] women are also expected to achieve economic and comnercial success and there are few traditional limits placed on their economic participation….

“The traditional values of [population X] stress individual competition and overt displays of ‘getting ahead’. Individual [members of population X] are expected to compete and to surpass each other’s accomplishments. The emphasis on competition is not limited to economic activities, but is a feature of personal relationships as well: within families, children are expected to compete with their siblings; sons and daughters are encouraged to surpass the achievements of their parents….

“[P]oorer relatives are not expected or allowed to lay claim to or live off the riches of wealthier family members….

“A final feature of traditional society which must be noted is the system of succession and inheritance. Of all the elements characteristic of [population X’s] social organization, this feature has been fundamental and has had far-reaching implications for the rate and pace of [population X’s] participation in economic growth, development, and change. Succession and inheritance rules are determined by the principle of patrilineal descent. According to custom, the eldest son is the probable heir, but a father may choose any one of his sons to succeed him. An heir takes his dead father’s name and inherits any titles held by the latter, including the right to membership in any societies to which he belonged…. The rights in land held by the deceased were conferred upon the heir subject to the approval of the chief, and, in the event of financial inheritance, the heir was not obliged to share this with other family members. The ramifications of this are significant. First, dispossessed family members were not automatically entitled to live off the wealth of the heir. Siblings who did not share in the inheritance were, therefore, strongly encouraged to make it on their own through individual initiative and by assuming responsibility for earning their livelihood….

A notable feature of the group is the complementarity between individualism and collective unity. Individuals are expected to make their own way in the world while retaining a strong ethnic identity and group association. This interact is one of the factors accounting for their economic success. Each individual, for example, is expected to contribute as much to the group as he receives in return. Thus, cooperation is essential. The group is perceived of as an interdependent system based on the strength of individual links….

“A principal [population X] belief is that individuals are, in the final analysis, responsible for their own fate. One makes one’s way in society on the basis of individual qualities. Status distinctions and rank are not rigidly fixed and there is always the possibility of advancement.”

a little more on inheritance practices in population X from a volume published by the university of california press (1976):

“[A]mong [population X], familial segmentation results from the choices that a testator can make with regard to this heirs: an individual who is not chosen as an heir is entitled to move into a new territory, and to create a new lineage: in this case, ascription is more likely to interact with achievement in the ultimate fate of an individual.”

and on voluntary associations from another volume published by the university of california press (1989):

“The original function of these societies was to administer initiation rites, but in societies with a more complex economy and polity, both male and female associations grew in importance by assuming a plurality of administrative and commercial functions as well, such as tax collection, price control in markets, maintenance of public order, and organization of collective work. The [X] societies of [population X’s] men and women provide good examples of such traditional associations. The women’s [associations] are presided over by the mother of the…chief — there are over a hundred such chiefdoms in [population X’s] territory — and its members help each other in agricultural work. The [associations] used to meet on a weekly basis to organize such work. In addition to associations that fit into the political structure of [population X’s] society, there are also many autonomous associations based on neighborhood. Aside from ritual functions (such as divination and faith healing) they also act as savings groups and associations for mutual assistance. More recently, [population X’s] associations…have been adapted to the needs of urban living and have led to a proliferation of voluntary membership clubs that provide mutual aid, companionship for immigrants, and entertainment. The savings groups are maintained by members paying in fixed amounts at weekly meetings, taking turns in receiving the entire sum. Membership is not restricted to a single saving association and the [members of population X] tend to join them as soon as they earn money.”

from a volume published by routledge (2013):

Known for their frugality and successful entrepreneurship, [population X] historically have played dominant social roles as businessmen.”

finally, from yet another university of california press volume (2002):

“[population X], making up roughly 25 percent of the [nation’s] population, have higher rates of fertility than their average [national] compatriots…. [population X] also exhibit lower rates of infertility than all other ethnic groups in [the nation].”

(note: comments do not require an email. hi there!)


  1. *obvious spoilers are obvious*

    Obviously a stem structure.

    This together with the parts about business success imply we are talking about a Market Dominant Minority.

    But the obvious ones don’t fit. Jews, though stem, don’t have high group solidarity. Armenians do, but IIRC they are communitarian.

    The additional part that their fertility is higher than that of the surrounding population would be very unusual too. Usually MDMs are richer (by definition) than majority population, and hence have lower fertility rates.

    The only place where this might be an exception (because Malthusian factors still operate, and people are only on the early stages of the demographic transition) would be in a very underdeveloped place like Afghanistan or Africa.

    Besides, the articles do imply the society in question is traditional and low-income.

    If Africa, the given certainly won’t describe the Indians or whites, the most prevalent MDM’s. We are talking about a geographically limited ethnic group here.

    The only other MDM I know of there that is indigenous to the continent are Tutsis (though there are many ethnic MDMs in Africa). So I’m going to guess Tutsis. IIRC they have a stem family structure. It is certainly patrilineal. They also have pretty high group solidarity.

    But then again Tutsis constitute only 10% of Rwanda’s population post-genocide, not 25%. So it’s not the Tutsis. I don’t know.

    PS. So I Googled and found the answer. Had no idea.


  2. @t.greer – “The one people who had a chance of making something great in Africa – before they were crushed.”

    interesting. i’m sensing a pattern here….

    the war nerd also said something similar about the tutsi recently…and i believe that i know of another example, too (i’ll relate it another day in a post…long story).

    has this been the west’s general strategy in africa? crush the capable populations? if so, that really s*cks! =/


  3. It sounds a bit like the Bamileke, I looked them up on Wikipedia after an earlier post about various African tribes. But there is probably more than one population that fit this description.


  4. Chinese in Malaysia was my guess too. Or more generally across Southeast Asia. I’ve spent a little time in Singapore, Penang, and Bangkok, and this seems to fit what I saw, although I don’t know enough to verify the details.

    I spent some time talking with various Straits Chinese about race relations. I didn’t get the Malay take, but HBDers would probably generally find the situation interesting.


  5. Um, hmm, based on “The original function of these societies was to administer initiation rites” and “chiefdoms” and “its members help each other in agricultural work” I want to change my guess to some African group (but I know zero about those).

    All those phrases are probably more-or-less accurate when describing the Straits Chinese, but they aren’t the language I’d expect anthropologists to use there. The Straits Chinese associations are based on family name (of which there are only a few dozen) so “initiation” is not exactly the function, and powerful men would probably have some title other than “chief” (I don’t know what), and they have long engaged mainly in trade (although I am sure they did & do help each other in agricultural work as well).


  6. I looked it up, sorry. I thought it might have been the Igbo too. I didn’t know that it was the group in question (without giving it away). I know somebody from that group quite well and they definitely fit the description (business owner in my city). I asked somebody from a different group of that country about that group, and was told: “yeah, they like money too much.” (!)


  7. My thoughts were the Lebanese Christians in Africa but initiation rites and tax collection threw that out. Buddhists soemwhere?


  8. I haven’t peeked and I really don’t have a clue, unless it’s that bit about 25% of the population. So I’m going to guess Israeli Ashkenazi.


  9. it sounds like a lot of “polishing the knob” or “t*rd shining” of a group that’s probably not all that competitive in the western technological world. it’s very politely written – i wish they’d write about my gang (German-Americans/British-Isles-Americans) so glowingly:) i almost embarrassingly guessed “mormons” till i got down to that primogeniture deal (don’t tell anyone how far off i was!:)


  10. OK! we have a winner! (^_^) and the grand prize is (which i should’ve announced at the start) FAME & GLORY (within the hbd-o-sphere — ymmv). (^_^)

    and the winner is…! *drumroll please* ….

    STAFFAN (who has obviously been doing his homework)!! yaaaay!!

    anatoly, t.greer, and chris came pretty close! (spaghetti meatball — you looked it up, didn’t you?)

    these are the bamileke of cameroon.

    and — nobody went for the bonus points — the bamileke avoid marrying anyone closer than their second cousins (they avoid marrying ALL of their maternal relatives, as a matter of fact), so they are outbreeders — although they DO have polygamy, which does narrow the relatedness somewhat.

    more on the bamileke in another post. (^_^)


  11. @panjoomby – “it sounds like a lot of ‘polishing the knob’ or ‘t*rd shining’ of a group that’s probably not all that competitive in the western technological world.”

    no, they might not be. but i saw some figures (will have to look them up again) about how the bamileke own something like 70% of the businesses in douala (or was it yaounde?), even though they’re just 25% of the population, so they obviously out-compete their fellow cameroonians. (don’t quote me on those figures. i need to re-check them!)


  12. panjoomby – They might not be competitive in a western technological environment, but they appear to be well on their away towards becoming. Hell, westerners created this technological environment only because they themselves became competitive enough to sustain it: it didn’t magically fall from the sky.

    Yeah, I looked it up. I though it was mormons first, but then I saw the tidbit that they’re 25% of the local population, so that ruled out the mormons (but, you know, at the rate they’re going…)


  13. @spaghetti meatball – i couldn’t figure out why i had banned your ip, but you’re this idiot.

    consider yourself on probation. keep posting reasonable comments like the ones above, and i’ll let them through moderation. you don’t have to agree with ANYthing on this blog — you can criticize and object to it all — just don’t be a d*ck. if you go back to being an idiot, then you go back to being banned.


  14. @spaghetti meatball – “They might not be competitive in a western technological environment, but they appear to be well on their away towards becoming.”

    i’d say they have pretty darn close to the right social structures (thanks, i think, to their mating patterns), but they’re prolly lacking the iq points.

    @spaghetti meatball – “Hell, westerners created this technological environment only because they themselves became competitive enough to sustain it: it didn’t magically fall from the sky.”

    yes. quite so. (and the iq points.)


  15. That wasn’t me :S …. I’m using a computer at a public library! I found your site on the browser’s history.

    edit: don’t lie. – h.chick


  16. late, i thought an african group from the context but my wild guess was going to be one of those blacksmith castes further north.


  17. It was more luck than anything else. I just happened to look at flatland and highlander tribes in Wikipedia and ended up reading the entry on the Bamileke a little more than the others for some reason, probably because you mentioned them in reply to my comment. But luck counts too : )


  18. I was leaning toward the Lebanese in Africa, but the fact that their breeding/inheritance traditions are still intact made me suspect a more native African population. Congrats to Staffan.


  19. […] why inbreeding or outbreeding?: – flatlanders vs. mountaineers revisited – consanguineous marriage in afghanistan – mating patterns in france and topography (and history) – the turkana: mating patterns, family types, and social structures – guess the population! […]


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