Racial/ethnic differences in male pattern baldness

The following entry from Polak showed up in my feed reader, though Polak seems to have removed it from his site.
Recent positive selection and male pattern baldness

[This study] shows that recent selection has apparently pushed up the risk of baldness in Europeans, although obviously it's a lot more complex than that. The authors focus on the HapMap cohorts (Chinese, Japanese, Yoruba from Nigeria and Utah European Americans), which is a bit of a shame, because it would've been great to see the results for a variety of European groups. By the way, no subscription or payment is required for this one...

Axel M. Hillmer et al, Recent positive selection of a human androgen receptor/ectodysplasin A2 receptor haplotype and its relationship to male pattern baldness, Human Genetics, Published online: 17 April 2009, doi: 10.1007/s00439-009-0668-z
I'm not terribly interested in quantitative differences here, but some qualitative ethnic differences in hairlines jump out at the observant. The straight-across hairline can add a vaguely disturbing note to already less-than-aesthetic Jewish physiognomies.

The Mediterranean or Latin development of pattern baldness involves recession of the frontal hairline and the development of vertex baldness. These two regions of hair loss expand and coalesce into the extensive type V pattern.

The Semitic (Jewish, Arabian) presentation of pattern alopecia involves progressive recession of the frontal hairline but there is no associated thinning on the vertex according to Ebling.

The Nordic presentation with a central lock of surviving hair was noted by Norwood in the development of his classification system. Ebling suggested the five stage system for Nordic races as shown below.
Also see this book chapter:
Human balding occurs in several patterns. These sometimes occur together or separately and occur at different frequencies. Some noteworthy patterns are: (A) Double point, forehead recession, widow’s peak; (B) Monk’s spot (usually A and B occur together; they are common in many European countries); (C) Line-of-march, common in the Mediterranean countries (e.g., Albert Einstein); (D) Single point forehead recession, common among Orientals (e.g., Mao Tse-tung).
References (from the first site linked above):
* Norwood OT. Male pattern baldness: classification and incidence. South Med J. 1975 Nov;68(11):1359-65.
* Hamilton JB. Patterned loss of hair in man: types and incidence. Ana N Y Acad Dermatol 1951:53;708-28
* Camacho F, Montagna W. Trichology. Diseases of the pilosebaceous follicle. S. Karger Publishers Inc. Farmington, USA. 1998. ISBN: 3-8055-6672-7
* Norwood OT. Hair Transplant Surgery. Charles C Thomas Publishers, Springfield IL, USA, 1973. ISBN 0-398-02892-3


TGGP said...

Do you have a Peter Frost type general theory of the evolution of aesthetically pleasing in different regions? I recall Frost saying that light skin is considered attractive on women because it is a more feminine appearance (subcutaneous fat really makes them "the fairer sex"). Under that logic, because baldness is so typically masculine and age tends to increase rather than decrease a man's status, baldness ought to be faked (a la bottle blondes) rather than disguised.

Anonymous said...

Oh, if only the author of this blog could prove himself worthy of his race. Oh, that distressing irony before he sleeps! To know that men of worth, beacons of the european race, names that have repeated on the tongues of men only by the memory of books, never sat spectacled, emasculate in the fantastical modern alchemies of his books and 'sciences'.

n/a said...


I think it's normal for someone of NW European ancestry to find NW Euro phenotypes most pleasing to the eye. As for why non-NW Euros often think highly of NW Euro looks (and many would insist they don't, whatever the evidence to the contrary), Erik Holland at femininebeauty.info explains it as part of a universal preference for "derived" over ape-like features. Then again: large, hooked noses and epicanthi are quite derived and quite unaesthetic; but since features like these seem to be adaptations to extreme (desert/arctic) environments, we wouldn't necessarily expect them to be aesthetically-pleasing. Holland believes sexual selection has acted more strongly in Northern Europe than elsewhere. Unlike Frost, Holland believes sexual selection acted more strongly on both sexes. Perhaps -- and this is not something I've thought hard about -- there were simply fewer constraints on the sorts of phenotypes that could be selected for in a region which was not excessively hot/cold/dry/sunny.

As for baldness, one author gives his theory in the book chapter I linked:

The status signal of the high forehead is obscured by our current accent on youth. Head shaving is a common phenomenon among many tribes and often is done only by males. Interestingly enough, it is sometimes performed in a manner which exaggerates the natural balding patterns. For example, the South American Yanomano shave the crown of the head, leaving a wreath of hair. Scars from battle are exhibited in this manner. Another South American tribe, the Tchikrin, pluck all facial hair, even in small children. The men, especially, have their hair plucked back from the forehead to the crown or hair whorl area. It was a common practice during the 1800's for Chinese males to shave the forehead well back to the top of the head and then braid the remaining hair in a queue.

At the present time Western cultures are caught in a pinch between the adulation of youth - which is responsible for our holding low hairlines in esteem - and our continuing respect for status and the high forehead which retains an element of nobility or at least an aristocratic man. The superhero males of the comics almost invariably have a high hairline.

[. . .]

In the distant past, the gloss of a bare scalp became the badge of leadership and dominance, whether it was the greased plucked head of the Yanamano or the oily, scraped scalp of an Ainu, Jew, Chinese, or Saxon. It is mimicked unconsciously by shiny metal helmets in many cultures.

Why then do we have so many hangups about baldness? Probably more people have been duped by "hair-growing" elixirs than by any other ineffectual cosmetic. Any man's magazine on the newsstand contains advertisements for secret formulas and special treatments to bring back lost scalp hair. Hairpieces and wigs are commonly used by men to cover the bald patches and receding hairlines. One of the newer alternatives, made possible by plastic surgery, is the grafting of small pieces of hair from other parts o the scalp onto thinning areas, to recreate permanently one's earlier hairline. Recreating the hairline of a 20-year-old is a retreat to the courtship age. We live in a society which bases most status evaluation on one's potential courting currency; that is the secret behind our reverence for youth.

The evolution of human scalp hair has followed this pattern: first it was an erectile threat crest, then strangely, it began to shift. Balding became the threat ideal, and a full head of soft hair was what we clung to as babies - a symbol of maternal-sexual security and attraction, like a round, warm breast. But recently the evolutionary bent has looped into an even odder twist. The symbols of age and status are in disfavor, even repugnant. Now it is the mature male who mimics the post-puberty vigor of youth that has become our and man's ideal. More than any of the other organic epaulets of the past, the threat value of the very high forehead and its exaggeration the bald scalp, has been debased. And like the Confederate dollar, there is something uncomfortably humorous about its continued existence.
The stereotypical wannabe MMA fighter has a shaved head and goatee. When I was in school, shaved heads were relatively common among those who played sports (though this was sometimes due to hazing).

Anonymous said...

"There is properly no history, only biography."--Emerson

To what avail do all of your worming and self-pitying racial musings come to?

The honest and strong european knows himself alone from even his fellow europeans. A Caesar or Napoleon would have saw you a frothy laugh, seeing you with your books and quaint notions, with your "race"! Oh how the girls even laugh!

n/a said...

Unentertaining troll,

Caesar found time to write books on campaign. Napoleon wrote a fucking romance novel. He was also a big reader who carried a large library with him. Why don't you put your inspirational words of wisdom to work on yourself and go do some great deeds. And keep your trolling fresh and entertaining or kindly vacate my comments section.

silver said...

We live in a society which bases most status evaluation on one's potential courting currency; that is the secret behind our reverence for youth.But isn't the masculinity and high status conferred by a high forehead -- the stuff of "alphaness" -- supposed to land you the babes?

I'm not sold on this baldness=distinuguished business. I've never seen any man look better bald than with hair. (Does anyone really think Roger Moore would have looked better with a baldie?)

I have a balding uncle who I think looks quite distinguished (not just by dago standards either), but he looked even better with more hair. (Of course, it's his dress, his posture, his gait and his mannerisms that add up to "distinguished" also.)

Talking about high foreheads, check out this guy. That's going to look like a brick plunked lengthwise on his neck if he goes bald. (Nothing faggy, btw. I once entertained thoughts of being a trainer myself, which is how I found out about him and was struck by that square head.)

bight said...

"Nothing faggy, btw. I once entertained thoughts of being a trainer myself, which is how I found out about him and was struck by that square head."

Sure. You dirty med fag.

n/a said...

"But isn't the masculinity and high status conferred by a high forehead -- the stuff of "alphaness" -- supposed to land you the babes?"

I didn't say I agreed with the theory. But status and physical attractiveness are distinct qualities (though one may affect the other, depending on the context).

Anonymous said...

Differences in type of nose of course varies by race/ethnicity, but what about ear types or ear lobes? Don't those differ along racial/ethnic lines as well?

Anonymous said...

There are worlds of difference between the hermetic autism of a feeble and diffident german in his books and a noble organizer of men and making like a Napoleon or Caesar. Worlds.

Anonymous said...

Consider monks and friars who, at least in the west, are almost universally shaven on the head with occasionally a tonsure remaining.

Anonymous I said...

"keep your trolling fresh and entertaining or kindly vacate my comments section."

That was a brilliant response. For me, you made his trolling both fresh and entertaining!

(Also I seriously would never have guessed Napoleon would have written a romance novel. Never.)

Anonymous said...

I think what he was getting at is society had changed in the way it looks at attractiveness. Balding has always been prominent all throughout history but there were men of immense power and prominence that had these traits so it wasn't as much of a negative if you were balding also. In today's society based mostly on entertainment from "attractive" Hollywood actors and musicians with full heads of hair, the view of what's attractive has changed. You can say oh I would never be attracted to someone balding but that's may actually be due to the fact that you were raised today. If you were born in a differnent time you may have wanted someone with other traits. This entertainment Era is idolizing good skin and a full head of hair so if you don't have those, then you feel inferior and unattractive.

You can bring no valuable traits besides looks and you're catered to through your life. The "best" are just pretty dolls to look at in on their shelf but not much else to them. Society is turning into what women want essentially (my words not his)

mind.it said...

Thanks for this great post, i find it very interesting and very well thought out and put together. I look forward to reading your work in the future. male pattern baldness

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