Areas With More Women Are Less Socially Stable, Study Says

Aug 24, 2016

Traditionally, anthropologists believed that areas with more men than women tended to have more crime, violence and broken homes because men tend to be more violent and willing to take risks than women.

That’s what Ryan Schacht thought. He’s an anthropologist at the University of Utah who conducted a longterm sex ratio study on populations in Asia and North America. He traveled to small, sex-imbalanced villages in Guyana and found the opposite: that areas with a greater proportion of men actually tended to be more stable than areas with a greater proportion of women.

“In those counties with more men, we saw a higher percentage of men being married and a higher percentage of women being married, lower rates of nonmarital fertility or out-of-wedlock births, and lower rates also of female-headed households,” Schacht said.

A likely reason for this has to do with the mating market, Schacht said, or the likelihood of men finding a partner.

“What we find is support for a mating market approach, that when men are relatively abundant and women are rare, that this is when they’re more likely to marry and settle down in a single, committed relationship,” Schacht said.

Areas in Utah, for instance, are more male-dominated due to an abundance of mining and industrial work. Schacht said Utah is very socially stable.

But sex ratio isn’t the only factor that determines whether or not a community is socially stable. Other factors like culture and the economy influence the community as well. In Utah, for instance, Schacht said cultural influences from the LDS church that emphasize marriage and in-wedlock-births affect the state’s social stability.

Will evening out the amount of men and women create a more socially stable society? Probably not, Schacht said. But this study gives anthropologists a fresh perspective about men and women’s influence in society.