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Monique Borgerhoff Mulder


  • Ph.D., Anthropology, Northwestern University, 1987
  • B.A., M.A Hons, Social Anthropology, Edinburgh University 1975


Monique Borgerhoff Mulder trained as a social anthropologist at the University of Edinburgh, and then worked in journalism, teaching and museum archaeology before starting a Ph.D. at Northwestern University, where she wrote a dissertation based on the application of a behavioral ecological and economic model to polygyny in rural Africa – the polygyny threshold model. After a post doc at the Evolution and Human Behavior Program at University of Michigan, she joined the UC Davis Anthropology (Evolutionary Wing) faculty in 1991, where she is now Distinguished Professor.

Research Focus

Professor Borgerhoff Mulder is a human behavioral ecologist (HBE) working on projects relating to life history, inequality, natural resource management, and patterned cultural variation. With HBE she explores big "Why" questions about our species: Why do people marry? What is the basis of gender roles in economic and social behavior? Why has fertility dropped so radically in most parts of the world? How can people cooperate over natural resource management? Why is economic growth in the developing world not reducing inequality. Her students work on these and related issues. She has active conservation and development projects, both research and applied, at national and local levels in Tanzania , in Mpimbwe, with Savannas Forever Tanzania, and most recently in Pemba.

Selected Publications


  • Recent Grants: NSF IBSS-L (60 months 01-01-2017 to 12-01-2021). The effect of social networks on inequality: a longitudinal cross-cultural investigation. With J. Koster, S. Bowles, M. Jackson, and E. Power ($860,000).
  • UC Davis Seed Grant (24 months 2015-2017) Conservation, cooperation and carbon credits: Piloting plans for Pemba ($25,000). With Tim Caro.
  • National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESNYC) – Evolution of Sustainability (2015-16)
  • Max Planck Institute. Committee Member for selection (2014-15)
  • Fellow, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Institute of Advanced Studies) (2011-12)
  • Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award (2009)
  • Gerald Young Book Award for “Conservation: Linking Ecology, Economics and Culture.  Princeton University Press (2005)