October 27th, 2011

Woman, the Hunter

"A vast amount of ethnographic and archaeological evidence demonstrates that the sexual division of labor in which men hunt and women gather wild fruits and vegetables is an extremely common phenomenon among hunter-gatherers worldwide, but there are a few documented exceptions to this general pattern. A study done on the Aeta people of the Philippines states: "About 85% of Philippine Aeta women hunt, and they hunt the same quarry as men. Aeta women hunt in groups and with dogs, and have a 31% success rate as opposed to 17% for men. Their rates are even better when they combine forces with men: mixed hunting groups have a full 41% success rate among the Aeta."[16]

It was also found among the Ju'/hoansi people of Namibia that women helped the men during hunting by helping them track down quarry.[19] Moreover, recent archaeological research done by the anthropologist and archaeologist Steven Kuhn from the University of Arizona suggests that the sexual division of labor did not exist prior to the Upper Paleolithic and developed relatively recently in human history. The sexual division of labor may have arisen to allow humans to acquire food and other resources more efficiently.[20] It would, therefore, be an over-generalization to say that men always hunt and women always gather. It is more of a relatively recent human "invention" that by increasing efficiency was beneficial to both sexes."

Hunter-gatherer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Among the Aeta. a hunter-gatherer society in The Philippines.
Men     hunting    alone   have    a   17% success rate,.
Women   hunting   alone   have  a  31% success rate, and
the sexes hunting together have a 41% success rate.

So why did men hunt and women gather?.
Maybe it was just convenient
Its not that men are naturally better hunters.
perhaps women are better at other things
than men are

The Greek patron of the hunt was a goddess
The ruthless Romans followed suit.
Maybe they knew something about women
that we men have wanted to forget..

Congressional Budget Office - Trends in the Distribution of Household Income Between 1979 and 2007

CBO finds that, between 1979 and 2007, income grew by:

275 percent for the top 1 percent of households,

65 percent for the next 19 percent,

Just under 40 percent for the next 60 percent, and

18 percent for the bottom 20 percent.

Congressional Budget Office - Trends in the Distribution of Household Income Between 1979 and 2007

The good news is that income went up for every quintile.  The not so good news is that there is no indication of whether income is measured in constant dollars (based on the value of a dollar in a particular year, say 2000) or real dollars.  If the cost of living rises faster than the increase in income then can become poorer even if their incomes are going up.*

The bad news is that income and wealth inequality are more socially disruptive than poverty.  If everyone is poor, people will often pull together for mutual survival and be satisfied that nobody is getting a raw deal.  Crime and suicide rates remain low.  People will claim to be happy. 

If the differences between rich and poor is great. especially in an industrial society, resentment and social problems will grow..Income distribution has become much more unequal since 1979.  Studies by the Federal Reserve have shown that this is even more true for wealth distribution.  Our Gini curves** are starting to resemble those of Agrarian societies, but we are not peasants and serfs and the rich are not an aristocracy.

* It looks like they did use constant (2007) dollars. so the increases can probably be taken as real.
**See page 11 and appendix B of the "full document."