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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2011 Feb;100(2):241-54. doi: 10.1037/a0021082.

Environmental contingency in life history strategies: the influence of mortality and socioeconomic status on reproductive timing.

Author information

1
Marketing Department, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, 321 19th Avenue S., Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA. vladasg@umn.edu

Abstract

Why do some people have children early, whereas others delay reproduction? By considering the trade-offs between using one's resources for reproduction versus other tasks, the evolutionary framework of life history theory predicts that reproductive timing should be influenced by mortality and resource scarcity. A series of experiments examined how mortality cues influenced the desire to have children sooner rather than later. The effects of mortality depended critically on whether people grew up in a relatively resource-scarce or resource-plentiful environment. For individuals growing up relatively poor, mortality cues produced a desire to reproduce sooner--to want children now, even at the cost of furthering one's education or career. Conversely, for individuals growing up relatively wealthy, mortality cues produced a desire to delay reproduction--to further one's education or career before starting a family. Overall, mortality cues appear to shift individuals into different life history strategies as a function of childhood socioeconomic status, suggesting important implications for how environmental factors can influence fertility and family size.

PMID:
20873933
PMCID:
PMC3556268
DOI:
10.1037/a0021082
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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