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The Sciences

Paternity rates by population

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanMarch 31, 2009 2:37 AM


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A few years ago a paper came out, How Well Does Paternity Confidence Match Actual Paternity?:

Evolutionary theory predicts that males will provide less parental investment for putative offspring who are unlikely to be their actual offspring. Cross‐culturally, paternity confidence (a man's assessment of the likelihood that he is the father of a putative child) is positively associated with men's involvement with children and with investment or inheritance from paternal kin. A survey of 67 studies reporting nonpaternity suggests that for men with high paternity confidence rates of nonpaternity are(excluding studies of unknown methodology) typically 1.9%, substantially less than the typical rates of 10% or higher cited by many researchers. Further cross‐cultural investigation of the relationship between paternity and paternity confidence is warranted.

I've referred to this paper before, but I thought it might be useful to post the rates for various populations. See the original paper for sources & discussion. Note that the second set of results from paternity testing laboratories obviously are subject to selection bias.

Table 1. Nonpaternity Rates (%) When Paternity Confidence Is Relatively High

PopulationActualSample Size

Sephardic Kohanim (Jewish priests)0.424

United States0.8496


Ashkenazic Kohanim (Jewish priests)1.244

Canada (Quebec)1.242

United Kingdom1.348

United Kingdom1.35521

United States (Michigan), white1.491417

Iceland1.49Not stated

United Kingdom1.59756


United States (California), white2.36960

United States (Hawaii)2.82839

United States2.8200



United Kingdom (West London)3.72596



Brazil/Venezuela (Yanomamo)9.1132

United States (Michigan), black10.1523

Mexico (Nuevo Leo´n)11.8396

Table 2. Nonpaternity Rates (%) from Paternity Testing Laboratories



United Kingdom 16.61702


Brazil (Belo Horizonte)22200

South Africa, white22.4264

United States (Cleveland)23.967

United States (Los Angeles), white24.91393

United States251000

United States25.22500

United States2650


United States (New York City)28.7300

United States (Baltimore)29124

United States (New York City)29.4102


South Africa, Cape Malay30.559

United States (New York City), black30.698

United States (Cleveland)32200

United States (New York City), white34.4425


United States (Illinois)37753

France (Paris)38.1543


South Africa, Cape Coloured40.11156

South Africa, black31.1645

United States42100


United States (Illinois)4537


United States55.6108

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