Local Resource Enhancement and Sex-biased Breastfeeding in a Caribbean Community
Quinlan, Robert J.
Quinlan, Marsha B.
Flinn, Mark V.
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Parents often treat sons and daughters differently. Boys are favored in some societies (Messer 1997), but in others girls receive preferential treatment including better medical care and more frequent breastfeeding (Cronk 2000). Cross-culturally, breastfeeding is a major component of early parental care that directly affects child health. Here we examine female-biased breastfeeding in Bwa Mawego, a horticultural community in the Commonwealth of Dominica, and test hypotheses from parental investment theory about the reasons for such bias (reviewed in CluttonBrock and Godfray 1991). Multiple linear regression suggests that sex differences in children's time allocation to productive activity account for female-biased breastfeeding in this community. Ethnographic data from Bwa Mawego suggest that female-biased maternal care results from male socioeconomic marginality and its effects on sex-specific risks of parental investment.