Yesterday, I met my younger sister Terry and her family in the Walker Brothers in Highland Park.  Our dad was treating us.  It was 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday.  I am the oldest of three kids, the only one still close to home.  We were eating breakfast a few blocks from one of the houses Terry and I grew up in.

Talking with my niece Renee, she told me about her choosing the economics of institutions as her undergraduate major, and her likely specialization as Ph.D.  It combines history, political science and economics and offers a wealth of interesting areas to explore.  Renee was excited.

I asked if there were evolutionary aspects to the discipline, if a paradigm of a succession of institutions in different societies over time was examined.  Renee was not aware that this was the case.  From her introduction to the study, it looked like the economics of institutions concentrated on snapshots of a place and time.

Riane Eisler’s The Real Wealth of Nations explores society’s institutions from a matristic point of view.  It’s not exactly an evolutionary model, but Eisler reveals the recent emergence of “partnership” society horizontal and egalitarian economic and government institutions.  From what Renee was saying, her economics course was comparing Marxist and capitalist models.  Eisler compares her new matrifocal paradigm with both patristic communist and patristic capitalist orientations.

During the conversation with Renee, my mind began to bounce the concepts I’ve been playing with up against the economic models and the kinds of institutions that societies create.  It would be fascinating to explore the overlap between social structure, the nature of institutions that different social structures create and the ways that manifestations of individual heterochronic tendencies within a society manifest in that society’s institutions.

A thought that slammed me during the discussion was the possibility that early institutions in the United States, and the profound innovation that followed, were a direct result of youngest sons and youngest daughters immigrating to this country.  Primogeniture would have encouraged this.  The first-born males would have stayed with the family property.  The first-born females were often married to ally two families and enhance status.

Flipping over to Wikipedia, I am stunned to see noted in the second paragraph, “…This may have resulted in a large number of younger sons of the British aristocracy emigrating to the colonial Southern United States.”  There is likely a pattern here.  This pattern is likely to have unfolded not just in the diaspora to America but in immigration populations across the planet.  Youngest sons and daughters, maturational-delayed sons, maturational-accelerated daughters, those with tendencies toward matrifocal social structure, are the people that immigrate to new locations.  More likely to engage in female choice, separated from families that would choose their mates for them, the immigrants would tend to create societies built from institutions that would encourage equality.  Industry and the commercial environment would more likely feature innovation.

While coming to these conclusions, talking to Renee, my head began to pound in pain.  And then, a little later, waves of nausea.  It being 24 hours later that I’m writing this down, I’m feeling much better, but I am wondering if there is a connection between my somatic distress and the ideas discussed.  Physical distress or emotional elation seems to frequently accompany insight.  It occurs that ideas are preceded by headaches that lift when put to paper, or headaches emerge while ideas get written down and headaches linger after the ideas are expressed.  Making connections is a physical experience.

Regardless, the idea that immigrating human populations may often compel the youngest sons and daughters to leave their societies of origins to begin new societies suggests that more egalitarian, innovative institutions will be characteristic of new societies.  Match this up with pineal testosterone season-of-birth effects on populations moving from equatorial regions to Northern climates and possible dramatic changes in diet and a picture emerges of how human evolution is impacted by movements in populations.

A question to consider is whether birth order and age of mother issues relevant to human evolution and social structure tendencies are applicable to other species when it comes to the movement of populations to new locations.  Are there other species with predictable progeny variations in testosterone and/or estrogen levels based upon mother’s age?  What are the male and female birth order patterns when societies of unestablished individuals break off from central groups?  Are there patterns that suggest that individuals that have broken off from their society of origin are more behaviorally or physiologically flexible than their parents?  Does social structure trend from a patrifocal to a matrifocal direction in immigrating populations?  How would you measure degrees of social structure in nonhuman species?

Perhaps the many ancient fairy tales can provide us guidance.  Always it is the youngest son that returns with blessings after having walked the unconventional path.  His two older brothers fail to achieve what the stories’ youngest son hero inevitably manages to discover.  The youngest son receives help from elves, dwarves, fairies, all manner of mysterious guides and gift givers.

Youngest daughters are similarly blessed in these stories.  With the older sisters married off to the parents’ first choice in a mate, whom the younger daughter marries becomes less important, more open to the invention of chance.  Their lives are less predictable.  They come across fairy godmothers and other powerful mysteries.

In my family, the younger the child, the farther from home they live.  Indeed, that would be one way to test one aspect of this thesis.  I would predict that youngest children live farthest from their parent’s home.

Our ancient stories encourage our youngest children to take chances.  Society structures itself to send the youngest far away.  There may be profound repercussions in our institutions.  Innovation may be blossoming around the youngest where they settle.  Consider that the profound creative, innovative proclivities of the United States may have its origins in progeny of the oldest moms.


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This entry was posted on Friday, February 20th, 2009 at 7:42 am and is filed under predictions, Social, Social Structure, Society. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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  1. The Paradox of Creativity : Neoteny, sexual selection, cause of autism, human evolution, social transformation, left organizing and internet activism - how they all connect on May 19, 2009 7:25 am

    […] laws.  These landless immigrants were encouraged to congregate in the New World.  (See my hypothesis to review why the youngest would be the most […]

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