Extraordinary sex ratios

W. D. Hamilton,  Science,  156:477-488. 1967.

The two sexes are usually produced in approximately equal numbers. Fisher (1) was the first to explain why, under natural selection, this should be so, irrespective of the particular mechanism of sex determination. His rather tersely expressed argument has been clarified by subsequent writers (2) and seems to be widely accepted. In bare outline, the factor of parental care being ignored, it may be given as follows: 1) Suppose male births are less common than female. 2) A newborn male then has better mating prospects than a newborn female, and therefore can expect to have more offspring. 3) Therefore parents genetically disposed to produce males tend to have more than average numbers of grandchildren born to them. 4) Therefore the genes for male-producing tendencies spread, and male births become commoner. 5) As the 1:1 sex ratio is approached, the advantage associated with producing males dies away. 6) The same reasoning holds if females are substituted for males throughout. Therefore 1:1 is the equilibrium ratio.