Darwin’s theory upended? Natural selection may be making society more unequal

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NORWICH, United Kingdom — Charles Darwin’s natural selection theory is being put to the test. Darwin’s theory expounded that organisms which can better adapt to their environment are more likely to survive and produce more offspring. However, a new study by British researchers reveals natural selection may be making society more unequal.

Researchers from the University of East Anglia find that natural selection is favoring poorer people with little education. The study “shows how natural selection effects are stronger in groups with lower income and less education, among younger parents, people not living with a partner, and people with more lifetime sexual partners.”

On the flip side, natural selection “is pushing against genes” associated with highly educated individuals, people who have more lifetime earnings, those who have a low risk of ADHD or major depressive disorders, and those with a lower risk of coronary artery disease.

“Darwin’s theory of evolution stated that all species develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce,” says lead researcher David Hugh-Jones, a professor from UEA’s School of Economics, in a university release. “We wanted to find out more about which characteristics are selected for and against in contemporary humans, living in the UK.”

‘Polygenic scores’ prove Darwin’s natural selection theory no longer valid?

Researchers analyzed the polygenic scores of more than 300,000 people in the United Kingdom, taken from the UK Biobank, which is a long-term project investigating the contributions of genetic predisposition and environmental exposure to the development of disease. The polygenic scores estimate a person’s genetic liability, a prediction of their health, education, lifestyle, or personality.

Researchers then used data on two generations of people living in the U.K. by looking at their number of siblings and number of children.

“We found that 23 out of 33 polygenic scores were significantly linked to a person having more or fewer children over their lifetime,” explains Hugh-Jones. “Scores which correlated with lower earnings and education predicted having more children, meaning those scores are being selected for from an evolutionary perspective.”

Meanwhile, researchers say scores correlating to those with higher earnings and better education predicted having fewer children, “meaning that they are being selected against.”

“Natural selection could be making society more unequal, by increasing the correlation between income and polygenic scores, including scores that predict health and education outcomes,” the study author continues.

Using the economic theory of fertility, researchers say those with higher earnings can afford more children. However, since it is costly to spend time on childcare instead of their job, they will miss out on higher wages.

“The first effect leads people to have more children, the second effect leads them to have fewer,” Hugh-Jones concludes.

The study is published in the journal Behavior Genetics.

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About the Author

Matt Higgins

Matt Higgins worked in national and local news for 15 years. He started out as an overnight production assistant at Fox News Radio in 2007 and ended in 2021 as the Digital Managing Editor at CBS Philadelphia. Following his news career, he spent one year in the automotive industry as a Digital Platforms Content Specialist contractor with Subaru of America and is currently a freelance writer and editor for StudyFinds. Matt believes in facts, science and Philadelphia sports teams crushing his soul.

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  1. Capitalism, consumerism, and the resulting destruction of the natural order based on the economic theory of the expansion of capital has upended the natural order. It has lead to gross pollution, human induced global warming, and a new era of mass extinctions. Over consumption of natural resources, factory farming, and income inequality and the effect of chemical and plastic pollution on the natural environment were not factors when Darwin made his theory of natural selection. The natural order is out of balance. Darwin’s theory is correct. This essay is poppy cock, failing to look into the mirror of the disaster of over consumption and greed. All a result of a fossil fuel economy structured on an economic theory of endless expansion.

  2. So cute! And he had to use the “…economic theory of fertility” to ‘splain it all. Bless his heart. I am assuming he is applying emotive reasoning….then it makes so much more sense.

  3. I am not sure social Darwinism is a real thing, and if it is, how does it equate to Natural selection and survival of the fittest on a purely biological level. Most scholars I know have come to the conclusion that natural selection is barely at play in human populations thanks to technology and resource availability.

  4. This paper was clearly not peer-reviewed. The authors have gotten the adaptation of Genetic Natural Selection to Social Hierarchy wrong.

    It is not about the number of children you produce, it is how successful the surviving children become in their life. It can be seen as the smarter higher standing people do not need to have as many offspring because each of their children have higher odds of surviving, being successful and passing on their genes. (Look at this data and determine relative risk among the groups before drawing conclusions. Bad post-hoc science evaluation).

    This concept is seen throughout nature, animals species that have to pass on intelligence vs simple physical characteristics to survive and prosper will always have fewer offspring in their lifetime then the one that just depend on simple attributes such as running faster or fighting better.

    Darwin didn’t get it wrong. Society pressures and reward are at fault.

  5. Mike Judge predicted this when he wrote “Idiocracy”. His premise was that less educated people are more likely to breed while educated people choose to keep their wealth and not have bigger families. And 500 years from now, the world would be entirely populated by idiots. But it didn’t take 500 years. It only took 50.

  6. RE “the elite”

    The first rule of truth telling is to use TRUTHFUL language.

    It means calling a spade a spade.

    In this article this rule is entirely violated.

    As an example, the governing authorities or bureaucrats or corporate leaders or ‘deep state’ players are not ‘the elite’ — they are THE SCUM OF HUMANS because they are REALITY-VERIFIED PSYCHOPATHS … read “The 2 Married Pink Elephants In The Historical Room” …. https://www.rolf-hefti.com/covid-19-coronavirus.html

    By failing to use TRUTHFUL language we are aiding in maintaining and promoting the destructive propaganda world (keeping lies and insanity alive) instead of revealing the deepest most important reality, promoting truth, and maintaining healthy authenticity. Higgins therefore is helping to keep society “more unequal” …

    How do self-styled “truth-tellers” wake up the masses to the so-called truth when they THEMSELVES use lies with their deceitful fake language???
    No one is “teaching” or “waking up” the ignorant masses to the core truths with lies, with the official “language of lies” (see cited source above).

  7. The researchers and whomever wrote the grossly misleading headline should be embarrassed of themselves. For the last several centuries, humans have not been governed by natural selection, thus Darwin’s theory had no bearing here. Humans have been unnaturally keeping people alive who would otherwise die naturally if natural selection took its course. In the 20th and 21st centuries, humans unnaturally controlled when and if they would reproduce. Thus, current human evolution no longer follows natural selection and unnatural means do not disprove natural selection.

  8. Just because the study finds that highly educated elites have fewer children, it does not follow that this is due to NATURAL selection. All it indicates is that these people may be selecting against themselves.

    Mike Judge explained precisely this in the first 10 minutes of “Idiocracy” back in 2006. Watch it.

    And to think that Darwin’s theory is aimed at promoting equality or equity is just bizarre woke nonsense. It is all about how inequalities (namely, superiorities) are achieved.

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