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A critical period for provisioning by Hadza men: Implications for pair bonding

By Frank W. Marlowe


Human pair bonding is often attributed to the importance of male provisioning. However, this has been called into question in recent years. Among tropical hunter–gatherers like the Hadza of Tanzania, the foods that men acquire contribute less to the diet than women’s foods, are acquired with less regularity, and are shared more widely outside the household. This forces us to ask what benefits forager women gain from being married. Here, I present data suggesting that Hadza women benefit from a husband’s provisioning when they have young nurslings. During this critical period, women have lower foraging returns and return rates, while their husbands have higher returns. These higher returns are not due to more meat, but to less widely shared foods, like honey. Even if women are subsidizing husbands much of the time, provisioning by husbands during this critical period of lactation could be enough to favor pair bonding. D 2003 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved

Topics: Foraging, Hadza, Hunter–gatherers, Lactation, Male provisioning, Pair bonds, Parenting effort
Year: 2003
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