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Annu Rev Anthropol. 1999;28:397-430.

Life history traits in humans: theory and empiricial studies.



Life history theory in biology presents evolutionary explanations for the timing of life events, with a particular focus on age schedules of fertility and mortality and growth. Fundamental to life history theory is the recognition that natural selection on the timing of life events, such as growth, maturation, reproduction, and death, depends on the ecology of energy production and mortality hazards. In this article, an evolutionary economic approach to understanding the interaction of resource production and mortality in shaping human life histories is developed. Introduction of the concept of embodied capital to examine trade-offs between current and future reproduction and between quantity and quality of offspring resulted to a conclusion that humans are outliers with extraordinarily high investment in embodied capital compared with the rest of the primate order. In addition, the evolved life history shows how to maximize own lifetime net energy production that can be used for reproduction as well as the total offspring energy production.

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