Some guys get all the babes – not exactly
A common theme that circulates in the HBD/Game blogosphere is that, in the wake of the sexual revolution, an increasing number of men end up mateless, thanks to the fact that a minority of men (“alpha males”) monopolize most of the women. A commentor over at Peter Frost’s blog even attached his own made-up numbers to the phenomenon:
It is difficult provide information and statistics on solitary bachelors men/women and singles men/women in a long term, short term relationships, dating and mating opportunities. Percentage of unmarried and married people is not useful in this case.
If you use to read essays on gender dynamics and the sexual revolution. A characteristic feature of decadent societies is the recrudescence of primitive, precivilized cultural forms. That is what is happening to us. Sexual liberation really means the Darwinian mating pattern of the baboon pack reappears among humans, where 80% of women managed to reproduce, but only 40% of men did. The obvious conclusion from this is that a few top men had multiple wives, while the bottom 60% had no mating prospects at all. Women clearly did not mind sharing the top man with multiple other women, ultimately deciding that being one of four women sharing an ‘alpha’ was still more preferable than having the undivided attention of a ‘beta’. Let us define the top 20% of men as measured by their attractiveness to women (phenotype), as ‘alpha’ males while the middle 60% of men will be called ‘beta’ males. The bottom 20% omegas are not meaningful in this context.
[Alpha] men practice serial polygyny, through mating a lot of girls, marriage, divorce, and remarriage. For all practical purposes, the consequences of serial polygyny are exactly the same as those of simultaneous polygyny. The mathematical consequence, given a roughly 50-50 sex ratio, is that situation is depriving beta men of mating opportunities.
So I decided to take a look to see if there was any truth to this. To do this, I yet again turned to the GSS.
Getting a clear picture of this requires a multi-pronged approached. The question I sought to answer was “what proportion of men end up lonely (i.e., without a wife/girlfriend) in middle age and older?” There doesn’t seem to be a single variable in the GSS that answers this question, so attacked this question in three different ways:
- The distribution of the numbers of children fathered by men
- The proportion of men who are married, divorced, or never married in mid-life
- The distribution of the number of female sex partners men have had
The following graphs are for non-Hispanic Whites, by cohort. To ensure that all participants were at least 40 years old at the time of the survey, I’ve gathered the data this way:
- Those born earlier than 1930 from the 1972-2010 data
- The 1930-1939 cohort from the 1980(2)-2010 data
- The 1940-1949 cohort from the 1990(2)-2010 data
- The 1950-1959 cohort from the 2000-2010 data
- 1960s and later from the 2008-2010 data
Assuming that these men answered honestly and are correct about the number of children they’ve had (since men are not always certain of this number), it appears that there is and has been a very wide spread in the number of children men sire. There is a noticeable decline in the number of men having very large numbers of children, which is consistent with declining birth rates over time. The proportion of men having no children hit a noticeable low during the good times of the post-War boom. Since then, the pattern has returned to something very similar to what it was before the boom; that is, a fifth to a quarter of men leaving no descendants. This is the raw material of natural selection, but it can safely be inferred that the traits being selected for have changed a great deal since the turn of the 20th Century.
Above are marriage rates. While there has been a noticeable increase in the number of men who are divorced or never marry at all, the vast majority of White men still get married by mid-life, even of the latest cohort to hit that stage.
This is the distribution of the number of lifetime female sexual partners. While the transition from the more monogamous days of old to the free sexuality of today’s world is very evident, a couple of things need to noted. For one, the proportion of lifetime male virgins has greatly decreased from the turn of the century cohorts. This is likely because in the fairly strict society of the day, unmarried men were largely unable to get sex, and hence were relegated to a lifetime of celibacy (as was the case in Northwestern Europe for centuries). That share has since been steady at ~4% since, [Edit: the real proportion is more like 2%, since about half of those guys with no lifetime female sex partners are gay] though (as the Audacious Epigone also discovered). However, even for the generations born at the beginning of the 20th century, a third of men had four or more female sex partners in their lives, and 10% had bed more than 10 women. [Edit, 11/13/12: I’ve added the 1980s cohort and split the categories further. As we can see, a not insignificant percentage of men claim to have had sex with over 50 different women in their lives!] (Note that the GSS question asks only the number of sex partners since age 18. Since the vast majority of people these days lose their virginity before that age, it’s quite likely that this under-counts the true number somewhat.)
In any case, it’s clear that the norm has shifted from one or a few lifetime partners to many—very many, considering that among the younger generations, half of all men have had sex with 10 or more women during the course of their lives (again, assuming that these data are reliable; one can imagine that men have a penchant to inflate the number of their sexual conquests). But this comes primarily at the expense of men who have had only a single partner, not by leaving a bunch of men with no mates.
I imagine that all the “game” folks will use these data to clearly delineate the distinctions between “alpha”, “beta”, and “omega” men, particularly among the younger cohorts.
These data make clear that the notion that a few “alphas” take all the women leaving none for all other men is clearly false. However, the reality of the situation may be in fact closer to what [Edit]:
commenter STF noted over at Peter Frost’s Heartiste stated awhile back:
Female economic empowerment and growing government largesse were helping to fuel the desire of women to ride the alpha cock carousel in their 20s, only to settle down with a beta provider later in life when their sexual peak had been passed.
We have scientific evidence proving a core concept that women who are materially comfortable — as many women became after their assault on the workforce and colleges beginning in the 1970s — are less likely to seek out beta providers and more likely to indulge their hypergamous drives and sex it up with handsome alpha cads; that is, until Father Time cruelly etches the first of his brandings on delicate, feminine faces. This would go a long way to explaining why age of first marriage has been steadily climbing since 1970; more years devoted to schooling to make the middle class money, yes, but also more years to slut it up with the high status alphas women truly desire but don’t need for material resource procurement.
Women who missed the big feminist bandwagon of the last 40 years and didn’t go to college or make a decent salary are the ones who pine for gentle, beta herbs to take them under their wing and provide a home, food and shopping money. So feminism has indeed been a boon for alpha males who want sex on the cheap with a harem of hypergamous concubines, and a living hell for betas who have been left out in the cold, waiting their turn for the ladies to age into their late 20s and 30s before getting a chance to drop on knee for the last ditch lock-up.
Despite his crude phrasing, these data suggest that there is an element of truth to
STF’s Heartiste’s analysis.
Indeed, this is the central problem fueling the “game” movement. As Frost noted earlier, among 18-30 year-olds (i.e., mating age), there is a numerical shortage of single women (particularly the most desirable women). This leaves many men—particularly in that age group—at a distinct competitive disadvantage in the mate market. These data suggest, as I suspected, and despite all the griping in the HBD/game world, that most of these men passed over in youth nonetheless end up settled with wives by their 30 and 40s.
I know that this may be cold comfort to a frustrated young man seeing his more studly peers land all the babes, but this is the reality of the situation. Unless there was an extreme excess of women, we can’t all be Hugh Hefner.
But, on to the question we all want answered, and to address Dr. Frost’s point, who is actually breeding more, cads or dads? To answer that question, I looked at the average number of children by the number of sexual partners, as Jason Malloy and others once investigated:
This the average number of children had by number of female sex partners, by cohort, with the data collected as described above, 95% confidence intervals shown. In virtually every generation, faithful men reliably outbreed more promiscuous ones. Indeed, in more recent cohorts, the studs typically bred at sub-replacement levels. One point, despite the small sample size, the anomalous low fecundity of the most womanizing men in the oldest cohort (who wouldn’t have had access to reliable contraception) suggest that they are underreporting the number of children they fathered.
Contra the wishes of the most conservatives voices, there is no undoing this pattern. The technological changes that brought about the sexual revolution are here to stay. Indeed, youthful male frustration notwithstanding, the situation is hardly as dire as conservatives often make it out to be. Considering the premium people today place on assortative mating, it is no wonder the age of marriage is rising: it simply takes that long to find the proper mate.
It’s also worth noting that, as Greg Cochran recently discussed, worry about dysgenic trends is a bit misplaced.
These facts do suggest that, even if wealth inequality were to relent, and wages for the middle class rose, marriages rates would rise and fertility would go up, but the situation would not resemble the 1950s. Many woman (and by extension, men) would still not marry until their late 20s and 30s, and marriages, especially those who wed young, would be unstable. Such is the nature of things today.
As a bonus, here are first three charts, but for women:
I will let the commentators put these data to work, because I’m sure they’ll have quite a bit to say. A word to wise, note that, as Satoshi Kanazawa has pointed out, men lie up while women lie down (see also Those Who Can See)…