We’ve all heard that old adage, “Mothers love their sons and raise their daughters.” While some have followed that premise into academic study (to inconclusive results) and others, such as evolutionary biologists Robert Trivers and Dan Willard, have given it qualifications (parents prefer their sons in favorable conditions and their daughters during difficult times), a study this year by Michigan State University anthropologist Masako Fujita is the most recent to prove daughters are favored — at least among poor mothers.

Fujita studied 83 Kenyan mothers and concluded that poorer women’s milk quality and frequency of feeding increased with daughters and diminished with sons.

CONCLUSION: Poor mothers place a larger biological investment in their daughters than their sons.

IMPLICATION: As Trivers and Willard previously suggested, less privileged moms may provide more resources to their daughters, since they stand a greater chance of increasing their status through their child’s marriage this way.

The study was conducted on women who lived in villages where men were allowed multiple wives, further increasing the likelihood that the daughters’ stations would improve through marriage. The full study was originally published in  the American Journal of Physical Anthropology this May.


What do you think of these findings? Surprising? Predictable? Similar or vastly different from your own observations about mothers and children from various socioeconomic backgrounds and experiences? Weigh in. 


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