The Fish is the Friend of Matriliny: Reef Density Predicts Matrilineal Inheritance

69 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2015

See all articles by Ariel BenYishay

Ariel BenYishay

College of William and Mary

Pauline A. Grosjean

UNSW Business School, School of Economics

Joe Vecci

Gothenburg University

Date Written: September 3, 2015

Abstract

Reef density predicts the prevalence of matriliny in a sample of 186 societies across the world and in a sample of 59 small-scale horticultural fishing communities in the Solomon Islands. We show that this result holds even controlling for common descent by relying on variation within ethno-linguistic groups in our Melanesian micro-sample, where matriliny is ancestral. Reef density explains as much as 20% of the variation in inheritance rule across villages in the Solomon Islands. We thereby establish that reef density and, indirectly, reliance on fishing, is a robust predictor of the persistence of matrilineal inheritance. Explanations based on the sexual division of labor and on inclusive fitness arguments support our results. We also document some of the demographic consequences of matrilineal inheritance, including smaller household and village population size.

Keywords: Matrilineal inheritance, marine resources

JEL Classification: O13, O56, Z13

Suggested Citation

BenYishay, Ariel and Grosjean, Pauline A. and Vecci, Joe, The Fish is the Friend of Matriliny: Reef Density Predicts Matrilineal Inheritance (September 3, 2015). UNSW Business School Research Paper No. 2015-21. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2658484 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2658484

Ariel BenYishay

College of William and Mary ( email )

P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23185
United States

Pauline A. Grosjean (Contact Author)

UNSW Business School, School of Economics ( email )

High Street
Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

Joe Vecci

Gothenburg University ( email )

Sweden
767851248 (Phone)

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