Wealth transmission and inequality among hunter-gatherers

Current Anthropology Published In Pages: 19-34
By Smith, Eric Alden, Hill, Kim, Marlowe, Frank W., Nolin, David, Wiessner, Polly, Gurven, Michael, Bowles, Samuel, Borgerhoff Mulder, Monique, Hertz, Tom, Bell, Adrian


This article examines whether intergenerational wealth transmission perpetuates inequality among hunter-gatherers. The authors consider three types of wealth: embodied, material, and relational. Empirical analysis of wealth transmission in five cultures suggests that, in many cases, a parent’s wealth is associated with a child’s life chances. Gini coefficients suggest that hunter-gatherer cultures have low to moderate wealth inequality overall: very low by current world standards but not non-existent.


This study includes only 5 cultures in the cross-cultural analysis.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
Standard Cross Cultural Sample (SCCS)
OtherMarlowe (2005)

Documents and Hypotheses Filed By:Kate Cummings Amelia Piazza