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Finn Baiting

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Long time readers will understand. These guys make so much eye contact that you’d probably drop your cellphone, and they’d install Symbian on it just to mess with you….

• Category: Humor, Science • Tags: Finn Baiting 
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Over at my other blog I have a review up of a new paper in PLoS Biology. The authors argue that a particular Y haplogroup lineage, R1b1b2, which has often been assumed to be a marker of indigenous Paleolithic Europeans (i.e., those who were extant before the rise of agriculture and the spread of farmers), is actually a signature of Anatolians who brough agriculture. This probably isn’t too surprising for the genetic genealogy nuts among the readers. After I got a copy of this paper I poked around the internet and the general finding that R1b1b2 was very diverse in the eastern Mediterranean seems to have been well known among the genetic genealogy community (also see Anatole Klyosov’s paper and what he says about Basques specifically). And then in eastern Europe you have R1a1, which seems to have also undergone recent range expansion. Finally, there are the recent rumblings out of ancient DNA extraction which imply a lot of turnover of mtDNA lineages during the shift from hunter-gathering to agriculture.

I think this makes us reconsider the idea that most of the ancestors of contemporary citizens of the European Union who were alive 10,000 years ago were actually resident within the current borders of the European Union. But let’s put the details of that aside for a moment. Which group might be most representative of Paleolithic Europeans? If the paper above is correct, the Basques are not a good proxy for the ancient hunter-gatherers of Europe.

Let’s look at a map which illustrates the spread of agriculture. I’d always focused on the SE-NW cline, but if the U5 mtDNA haplogroup is a reasonable marker of ancient pre-agricultural Europeans, we need to look at the Finnic peoples of the northeast. This may explain why these populations also tend to be genetically distinct from other European groups; not because they’re an exotic admixture, but because they’re not. Anyway, simply speculation, I’m sure readers will have their opinions….

• Category: Science • Tags: Archaeology, European Genetics, Finn Baiting 
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Tyler Cowen Alex Tabarok points me to this paper, Sociosexuality from Argentina to Zimbabwe. The abstract:

The Sociosexual Orientation Inventory (SOI; Simpson & Gangestad 1991) is a self-report measure of individual differences in human mating strategies. Low SOI scores signify that a person is sociosexually restricted, or follows a more monogamous mating strategy. High SOI scores indicate that an individual is unrestricted, or has a more promiscuous mating strategy. As part of the International Sexuality Description Project (ISDP), the SOI was translated from English into 25 additional languages and administered to a total sample of 14,059 people across 48 nations. Responses to the SOI were used to address four main issues. First, the psychometric properties of the SOI were examined in cross-cultural perspective. The SOI possessed adequate reliability and validity both within and across a diverse range of modern cultures. Second, theories concerning the systematic distribution of sociosexuality across cultures were evaluated. Both operational sex ratios and reproductively demanding environments related in evolutionary-predicted ways to national levels of sociosexuality. Third, sex differences in sociosexuality were generally large and demonstrated cross-cultural universality across the 48 nations of the ISDP, confirming several evolutionary theories of human mating. Fourth, sex differences in sociosexuality were significantly larger when reproductive environments were demanding but were reduced to more moderate levels in cultures with more political and economic gender equality. Implications for evolutionary and social role theories of human sexuality are discussed.

Below is a table of SOIs….

• Category: Science • Tags: Finn Baiting, Sex 
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Matt Yglesias points out that in terms of suicide rates Finland is a Scandinavian outlier, and clusters with Japan and Korea. But interestingly, there’s another European nation which is even more suicidal than Finland. Hungary. Below the fold are the data for the OECD nations….

• Category: Science • Tags: Finn Baiting 
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Over the years several Finnish readers (OK, one specific Finnish reader) has made the repeated claim that some of the stereotypes that Americans have of politically correct (Fenno)-Scandinavians is actually typical of Sweden, and not Finland, or even the other Nordic countries. As I’ve been poking around The World Values Survey I think there is something to this. There are some sets of questions where the Swedes give much more “Politically Correct” answers than Finns, or even other Nordics. I note that the answers are Politically Correct because I’m not necessarily saying that the answers someone gives on a survey necessarily translates into the same magnitude of public policy difference. The World Values Survey happens to have Denmark, Sweden and Finland (at least the Four-wave Aggregate of the Values Studies which I’m using). I decided to post responses to a large range of questions (obviously a finite set) for these three nations, as well as Italy as European outgroup. Many of the responses were as you would expect; the Nordic countries are more openly secular than Italy. The fact that Italians were more hostile to the idea of living next to large families also was not surprising, at least judging from what I’ve heard of how they view the French as breeders. On the other hand, there are a host of questions where Sweden is the outgroup, and another set where Sweden and Denmark are relatively close, with Finland approaching Italy in social outlooks. Finally, many of the results reinforce an interesting point that was clear when I looked at Hong Kong: socialist nations often exhibit some fatigue at the extent of the nanny state, while nations with thinner social safety nets have a more positive attitude toward future extension of the welfare state. Since the results below are a finite subset I invite readers to go in and explore The World Values Survey themselves.

Note: Sample sizes are around 1,000 for each nation. Additionally the surveys were done in 1999 to 2001.

Denmark Finland Italy Sweden
Family very important 87.1 80 90 89.5
Politics very important 8.1 3.7 8 11.4
Religion very important 7.9 13.8 33 10.7
Very happy 45.1 24.3 18.4 36.7
Mentions good manners as important child quality 72.4 89.8 74.8 70.3
Mentions independence as important child quality 80.7 57.6 41.1 68.8
Mentions hard work as important child quality 2.1 12 36.1 3.9
Mentions tolerance and respect as important child quality 87.3 82.7 75 92.5
Mentions thrift as important child quality 9.6 22.6 34.7 30.5
Mentions religious faith as important child quality 8.2 15.7 31.4 4.9
Mentions unselfishness as important child quality 55.8 20.8 41.4 32.7
Mentions obedience as important child quality 14.4 30.2 27.8 12.7
Approve abortion when woman not married 81.4 59.1 38.8 89.8
Approve abortion if no more children wanted 72.5 52.3 31 85
Spend time with friends weekly 60.1 60.3 61.9 66.5
Spend time with people at sport, cultural or communal organization 27.3 43.6 55.4 38.5
LIGN="LEFT">Frequently discusses politics with friends 24.9 7.4 12.9 19.4
Belong to social welfare organization 6.5 10.4 6.4 20.8
Belong to human rights organization 4.1 5.9 2.8 15
Belong to environmental group 13.1 4.5 3.8 11.3
Would not like to have criminal neighbor 30.6 39.4 47.4 33
Would not like to have neighbor of different race 7.4 12.4 15.6 2.5
Would not like to have neighbor who is heavy drinker 36.1 51 40.4 33.2
Would not like to have neighbor who is Muslim 16.3 19.3 17.2 9
Would not like to have neighbor who is immigrant 10.6 13 16.5 2.8
Would not like to have neighbor who has AIDS 5.8 20.9 31 6.7
Would not like to have neighbor who is drug addict 59.7 75.3 54.6 60.4
Would not like to have neighbor who is homosexual 8 21.3 28.7 6.1
Would not like to have neighbor who is a Jew 2.5 8.6 12.9 2.1
Would not like to have neighbor who is Gypsy 15.3 44.3 55.6 19.9
Would not like to have neighbor who is Left-wing extremist 9.2 13.3 28.2 23
Would not like to have neighbor who is Right-wing extremist 20.4 17.8 30 47.8
Would not like to have large families as neighbors 4.4 7.5 13.9 4.1
Most people can be trusted 66.5 58 32.6 66.3
Strongly agree with increasing taxes to prevent pollution 22.1 8 6.5 28.2
Agree men should have jobs when they are scarce 6.2 9.9 27 2.3
Agree employers should give priority to natives over immigrants 34.3 65.3 61.4 11.3
Strongly agree that people should not have to work if they don’t want to 2.3 5.5 4.8 2
Agree that child needs home with father and mother 66.9 60.4 92.4 60.1
Approve of woman as single parent TD> 52.3 53.6 27.5 31.7
Agree strongly that women want children and home 3 9.6 17 9.1
Disagree strongly that women want children and home 27.2 8.9 3.3 27.3
Agree marriage is outdated 15 18 17 20.4
Agree strongly that long-term relationship necessary to be happy 15.1 8.7 20.1 11.7
Faithfulness very important for successful marriage 84.3 81.6 84.1 88.5
Respect & appreciation very important for successful marriage 84.7 85.7 90.2 93.9
Religious beliefs very important for successful marriage 12.7 15.3 23.4 12.9
Agreement on politics very important for successful marriage 1.7 4.2 7.2 5.9
Understanding & tolerance very important for successful marriage 79.3 69 81.4 87.2
Children very important for successful marriage 36 54.7 58.2 58.9
Agree strongly that being a housewife just as fulfilling 13.8 30.4 12.6 17
Disagree strongly that being a housewife just as fulfilling 9.8 2.4 7.7 14.1
Eliminating very big income inequalities very important 10.1 30.5 34.9 17.9
Eliminating very big income inequalities not at all important 23.8 3.9 6.3 7.3
Guaranteeing basic needs for all very important 48.3 68.6 70.4 71.3
Guaranteeing basic needs for all not at all important 5.1 0.9 1.1 1.4
More emphasis on technology in future good thing 61.9 54.9 64.5 35.3
More emphasis on the individual in future good thing 93.3 89.7 92.4 89.7
More emphasis on respect for authority in future good thing 38.2 39.2 51.3 22.2
More emphasis on family life in future good thing 95.3 94.9 92.3 78.1
The government should take more responsibility (10) 1.3 3.1 12.2 1.8
People should take more responsibility (0) 11.4 11.7 8.6 14.7
Competition is good (0) 13.8 10.8 18.7 17.9
Competition is harmful (10) 2.3 2.4 4.4 0.8
State should control firms 3.7 2.4 8.5 2
Private sector should have freedom to run firms 13.2 9 15.3 14.9
A great deal of confidence in the United Nations 9.2 5.2 18.2 14.2
Emphasis on freedom over equality 69.4 53.1 39.7 61.6
Concerned with living conditions of immigrants 4.3 3.3 6.6 7.1
Prepared to help immigrants – Absolutely yes 5.6 2.7 6 10.7
Prepared to help sick & disabled – Absolutely yes 19.4 15.4 19.1 28.2
Prepared to help immediate family – Absolutely yes 58.8 53 50.2 78.8
Let anyone come (Open Borders) 7.4 10.3 9.7 16.3
Strict limits to immigration 66.1 51.9 38.3 28.7
Immigrants should maintain distinct customs & traditions 23.4 32 59.7 36
Religious person 76.5 66.6 85.8 38.9
Clear guidelines about what is good & evil 10.4 29.3 26.4 15.8
Attend religious services once a week 2 3.2 30.3 3.3
Believe in God – No 31.1 17.5 6.5 46.6
Believe in reincarnation – No 82.7 81.6 82.2 78
Do you believe lucky charm protects? – Definitely not 65.4 60.4 68.6 61.5
Baptism important? – Yes 65.3 84.3 89 59.8
Church wedding important? – Yes 63 82.7 84.9 62.4
Funeral with religious services important? – Yes 79.9 89.8 89.4 77.6
Politics who don’t believe in God unfit for office – Strongly Disagree 60.3 22 15.3 47.5
Cheating on taxes never justifiable 65.6 52.9 <
56.6 50.7
Accepting bribe never justifiable 92.9 79.9 79.3 68.5
Suicide never justifiable 51.1 41.1 62.2 28.8
Divorce never justifiable 7 3.1 18.5 2.1
Lying never justifiable 60.7 40.3 50.7 41.4
Adultery never justifiable 67.1 52.5 50.7 50.5
Throwing away litter never justifiable 79.8 51.4 73.8 43.8
Casual sex never justifiable 46.3 33.8 48.5 26.6
Very proud of nationality 48 56.1 39.3 41.4
• Category: Science • Tags: Finn Baiting, World Values Survey 
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Genetic markers and population history: Finland revisited:

The Finnish population in Northern Europe has been a target of extensive genetic studies during the last decades. The population is considered as a homogeneous isolate, well suited for gene mapping studies because of its reduced diversity and homogeneity. However, several studies have shown substantial differences between the eastern and western parts of the country, especially in the male-mediated Y chromosome. This divergence is evident in non-neutral genetic variation also and it is usually explained to stem from founder effects occurring in the settlement of eastern Finland as late as in the 16th century. Here, we have reassessed this population historical scenario using Y-chromosomal, mitochondrial and autosomal markers and geographical sampling covering entire Finland. The obtained results suggest substantial Scandinavian gene flow into south-western, but not into the eastern, Finland. Male-biased Scandinavian gene flow into the south-western parts of the country would plausibly explain the large inter-regional differences observed in the Y-chromosome, and the relative homogeneity in the mitochondrial and autosomal data. On the basis of these results, we suggest that the expression of ‘Finnish Disease Heritage’ illnesses, more common in the eastern/north-eastern Finland, stems from long-term drift, rather than from relatively recent founder effects.

The Wikipedia entry on Swedish-speaking Finns highlights the controversies about their origins. Some claim that they are Finns who switched to Swedish as they rose up the class hierarchy, while the alternative model is that they are the descendants of immigrants who arrived after the Swedish conquest of much of Finland during the 12th and 13th century. Additionally, there is the countervailing dynamic whereby it seems that many Swedish speaking Finns have been assimilated into the Finnish speaking population since the 19th century.

Of course it doesn’t need to be a black-white dichotomy of immigrants vs. the indigenous. But the genetic data can help quantify the proportion of gene flow due to migration vs. acculturation. Right now the genetic data don’t seem to support a strong version of the hypothesis that Swedish-speaking residents of Finland are simply the descendants of those who switched to the Swedish language. Rather, a non-trivial level of migration seems likely to have been an integral part of the process.

H/T Dienekes

Related: The genetics of Fenno-Scandinavia, Finns as European genetic outliers and Estonians are not like Finns.

• Category: Science • Tags: Finn Baiting, Population Genetics 
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Adolescent Leadership and Adulthood Fertility: Revisiting the “Central Theoretical Problem of Human Sociobiology”:

Human motivation for social status may reflect an evolved psychological adaptation that increased individual reproductive success in the evolutionary past. However, the association between status striving and reproduction in contemporary humans is unclear. It may be hypothesized that personality traits related to status achievement increase fertility even if modern indicators of socioeconomic status do not. We examined whether four subcomponents of type-A personality-leadership, hard-driving, eagerness, and aggressiveness—assessed at the age of 12 to 21 years predicted the likelihood of having children by the age of 39 in a population-based sample of Finnish women and men (N=1,313). Survival analyses indicated that high adolescent leadership increased adulthood fertility in men and women, independently of education level and urbanicity of residence. The findings suggest that personality determinants of status achievement may predict increased reproductive success in contemporary humans.

In Finland a “Type-A Personality” presumably refers to someone willing to make eye contact with family members. In any case I think this table is probably the most informative:

The main caveat which is stated in the paper is that we’re talking about Finland today. How generalizable is this? If leadership was a primary factor behind reproductive success over long periods of time how come we’re not all Type A personalities? I think it seems likely that the fitness of these individuals and their morph exhibits frequency dependence. Additionally the longer term volatility of this strategy probably differs from more retiring personal profiles. The Type A strategy seems more likely to be subject to winner-take-all dynamics; there were many prominent leaders on the Mongolian plain of 1250. Very few of them have descendants due to the fact that one Type A eliminated all the rest. In Farewell to Alms Greg Clark reports data which illustrate that before the 19th century the blooded military nobility might have had below average replacement because of morality during war. In contrast, the gentry were fertile. Not to nerd out, but this shows that the Hobbit strategy can beat the Numenorean over the long term. Modern post-industrial societies have a particular social ecology, and are subject to a dynamic contingent upon that ecology. Let’s not overgeneralize.

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At least on the state level. A bold Swede who is not shy about plotting data took a stab at checking to see if the results in the personality variation paper could also show trends in GDP per capita:

Extroversion correlated weakly positive (0.16), agreeableness moderately (0.31), conscientiousness moderately (0.34), neuroticism weakly (0.13) and openness negatively (-0.26). That seems odd.

I have plotted the different factors vs GDP below (click for a larger version), with a bundle of regression lines added (each corresponds to the data minus one state, thus showing a bit how stable the estimates are).

Here’s my explanation: the same state which has Silicon Valley also has Fresno (no offense to Fresno). The correlations I reported yesterday between Openness and something like patent production would only be generated by the tails of the social distribution. Silicon Valley, not Fresno. There’s a reason that The Audacious Epigone looked at both high school graduation rates and college degree holding rates. The two don’t always go in the same direction….

Update: From the comments::

He’s interpreted the data wrong. Specifically, he plotted the state rank, not the z-value, and so the lowest valued states have the highest openness. The graph then does in fact show that higher openness produces higher per capita GDP. In fact all his correlations have the wrong sign because of this.

Still, he should plot the z-value instead.

If Anders doesn’t do this, I might instead….

• Category: Science • Tags: Culture, Finn Baiting 
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An Association Analysis of Murine Anxiety Genes in Humans Implicates Novel Candidate Genes for Anxiety Disorders:

Specific alleles and haplotypes of six of the examined genes revealed some evidence for association (p ≤ .01). The most significant evidence for association with different anxiety disorder subtypes were: p = .0009 with ALAD (δ-aminolevulinate dehydratase) in social phobia, p = .009 with DYNLL2 (dynein light chain 2) in generalized anxiety disorder, and p = .004 with PSAP (prosaposin) in panic disorder.


Furthermore, the team’s international collaborators in Spain and the United States are trying to replicate these findings in their anxiety disorder datasets to see whether the genes identified by Finnish scientists predispose to anxiety disorders in other populations as well. Only by replicating the results firm conclusions can be drawn about the role of these genes in the predisposition to anxiety in more general.

Haplotter shows selection around ALAD for Africans. PSAP is interesting:

This gene encodes a highly conserved glycoprotein which is a precursor for 4 cleavage products: saposins A, B, C, and D. Each domain of the precursor protein is approximately 80 amino acid residues long with nearly identical placement of cysteine residues and glycosylation sites. Saposins A-D localize primarily to the lysosomal compartment where they facilitate the catabolism of glycosphingolipids with short oligosaccharide groups. The precursor protein exists both as a secretory protein and as an integral membrane protein and has neurotrophic activities. Mutations in this gene have been associated with Gaucher disease, Tay-Sachs disease, and metachromatic leukodystrophy….

• Category: Science • Tags: Finn Baiting, Genomics 
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Dienekes has a long post on a new paper, Correlation between Genetic and Geographic Structure in Europe. I took the figure and decided to just label the geographic provenance of the primary clusters which emerged when one plotted them along the two largest dimensions of variation (Y axis is 1st component, X is 2nd component) for easy gestalt absorption. To a large extent genetics does seem to follow geography. Obviously the labels for Italy and Spain really underestimate the area these two samples span, so they are meant to be general pointers, not precise indicators of the center of a given cluster. Note Finland…too terrified to join the party I assume?

Update: Also, see what Sandman sayeth.

Update II: And Genetic Future.

• Category: Science • Tags: Finn Baiting, Genetics 
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Stephen Bainbridge weighs in on the side of wine in its role as a catalyst for Civilization. The authors of He said Beer, She Said Wine engage in a more proximately relevant debate….

• Category: Science • Tags: Finn Baiting 
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Finnish Parliament debates proposal for “love vacations”:

A proposal by MP Tommy Tabermann (SDP) to grant all employees a paid 7-day “love vacation” once a year led to an exceptionally colourful debate in Parliament on Thursday evening.

According to Tabermann, the purpose of such vacations would be to prevent relations from disintegrating and the spouses from drifting apart.

During the seven days, couples could devote themselves to each other “both at an erotic and emotional level” and “find their way back to the path of love in order to find the wellspring of love again”.

Some MPs suspected that the proposal might discriminate against single persons, but others said that a love vacation would be the privilege of all, even the singles and the single parents.

Tommy Tabermann is a poet, but I don’t think he’s working on a follow up to the Kalevala.

• Category: Science • Tags: Finn Baiting 
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Lordi hopes for monster hit with horror film debut. A Finnish horror film? What, is it going to feature a mutant which makes eye contact with strangers while fully sober? Might this result in a reign of prosocial terror as the eye-contact-making-monsters eat the brains of Finns and transforming them into mutants as well; turning a quiet nation into a horde of demonic Neaopolitans?

• Category: Science • Tags: Finn Baiting 
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Language tensions mount in bilingual Finland:

“Finland tries to teach everyone a lesson about morality but minorities in China are treated better,” blasted Juhan Janhunen, an expert on Asian languages, comparing one of the most egalitarian countries in the world to the Communist regime.


Heikki Tala, the head of the Association for Finnish Culture and Identity, doesn’t see a problem.

“Swedish speakers enjoy privileges like no other linguistic minority in the world,” he said.

The 500,000 Finns in Sweden have no rights,” he pointed out.

• Category: Science • Tags: Finn Baiting 
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Socialism doesn’t work people, haven’t we learned that? Strike closes nearly 300 liquor stores in Finland.

• Category: Science • Tags: Finn Baiting 
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Hm. I wonder if Finn-baiting might not be so safe. See here:

Although gun violence is very rare in Finland, the country has the highest rate of firearm ownership in Europe and the third highest in the world, behind only the United States and Yemen. Why do so many Finns own firearms?

They’re hunters….

While Finns have a reputation for violence, firearms almost never enter the picture. Finland does have the highest murder rate in Western Europe, but those cases-commonly related to alcohol or domestic abuse-often involve knives rather than guns.

Since when was Finland in Western Europe?

• Category: Science • Tags: Finn Baiting 
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1993 segment on Finland from 60 minutes….

• Category: Science • Tags: Finn Baiting 
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This is a really strange story, Finland lures hi-end Indian tourists for winter experience:

Finland is wooing hi-end Indian travellers for a winter experience ‘that rejuvenates the mind and body’, includes a meeting with Santa Claus and a visit to the world’s northernmost zoo in the Arctic Circle.`

More seriously, India growth story charms Nokia-land:

Though the current volume of trade between the two countries at 490 million euros hardly sounds happy, Finland — from which the markets of Nordic and Baltic countries as well as Russia can be accessed — is showcasing itself as the land of business opportunity. Or “India’s gateway to Europe”, as the Finns love to point out.

Gateway to Europe? Perhaps I’m Anglo-centric, but such a gateway seems like a case of rear entry here….

• Category: Science • Tags: Finn Baiting 
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Virpi Lummaa has a paper up at PLOS One, Natural Selection on Female Life-History Traits in Relation to Socio-Economic Class in Pre-Industrial Human Populations:

…We found the highest opportunity for total selection and the strongest selection on earlier age at first reproduction in women of the poorest wealth class, whereas selection favoured older age at reproductive cessation in mothers of the wealthier classes. We also found clear differences in female life-history traits across wealth classes: the poorest women had the lowest age-specific survival throughout their lives, they started reproduction later, delivered fewer offspring during their lifetime, ceased reproduction younger, had poorer offspring survival to adulthood and, hence, had lower fitness compared to the wealthier women. Our results show that the amount of wealth affected the selection pressure on female life-history in a pre-industrial human population.

Lummaa’s data is from the 18th and 19th century in Finland, but in many ways it is generalizable. In post-demographic transition societies we are faced with the fact that the lower social classes tend to be more fecund, but for most of human history this was not an operative dynamic. I believe some of the resistance to Greg Clark’s contention that the wealthy gentry were the predominant ancestors of the modern British population is simply due to its relative counter-intuitiveness to the modern middle class, who simply can’t believe that anyone responsible would breed to their maximal reproductive capacity.

Before Chris Surridge starts riding me, please be aware you can leave comments over at PLOS One!

Pettay JE, Helle S, Jokela J, Lummaa V (2007) Natural Selection on Female Life-History Traits in Relation to Socio-Economic Class in Pre-Industrial Human Populations. PLoS ONE 2(7): e606. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000606

• Category: History, Science • Tags: Finn Baiting, Genetics, History 
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Finns dominate mobile-chucking contest.

• Category: Science • Tags: Finn Baiting 
Razib Khan
About Razib Khan

"I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. If you want to know more, see the links at"