Population Control explanation

Population Control explanation - Harrus recognizes that...

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Population Control explanation: This explanation takes various forms, starting with simple notion (going back to Malthus) that warfare directly controls population thru mortality Data & logic argue against this, since unless folks practice strict monogamy, the effect of male mortality on population growth can be readily offset by female fertility In fact, many warlike populations have moderate or large amount of polygyny, and female mortality from war is usually quite low; here are some examples (all swidden agricultural peoples): Mortality due to warfare: Society (Location) Polygyny common? Adult male Adult female Fore (New Guinea) Yes 14% <1% Enga (New Guinea) Yes 25% <1% Dugum Dani (New Guinea) Yes 29% 3% Yanomamo (Amazonia) Yes 30% 7% [Note: there is even less demographic impact in modern state warfare: annual growth rate in WW II = 5% Germany, 0.2% U.S.A.; among Vietnamese in 1960-1970 = 3%] A more elaborate argument is offered by Marvin Harris, who holds that warfare among non-stratified societies is a cultural adaptation to prevent resource depletion
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Unformatted text preview: Harrus recognizes that warfare deaths themselves rarely have significant long-term impact on growth rates Instead, Harris proposes a more complex, indirect link between warfare and population control: • population growth → protein scarcity → need to regulate population • female infanticide → reduced population growth, but also → shortage of women • women shortage → raiding other villages • raiding complex → selective advantage to warlike society → preference for "fierce males" (more men also means more protein) • preference for men → more female infanticide (positive feedback loop) • fierce warriors rewarded thru more wives → polygyny → more warfare (positive feedback again) Thus Harris sees war in pre-state societies as adaptive in such cases (in preventing population from exceeding carrying capacity), but creating a sort of "ecological trap" from which it is hard to escape...
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