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An Evolutionary Ecological Perspective on Demographic Transitions: Modeling Multiple Currencies

Publication Abstract

Low, Bobbi, Carl P. Simon, and Kermyt G. Anderson. 2002. "An Evolutionary Ecological Perspective on Demographic Transitions: Modeling Multiple Currencies." American Journal of Human Biology, 14(2): 149-167.

Life history theory postulates tradeoffs of current versus future reproduction; today women face evolutionarily novel versions of these tradeoffs. Optimal age at first birth is the result of tradeoffs in fertility and mortality; ceteris paribus, early reproduction is advantageous. Yet modern women in developed nations experience relatively late first births; they appear to be trading off socioeconomic status and the paths to raised SES, education and work, against early fertility. Here, [1] using delineating parameter values drawn from data in the literature, we model these tradeoffs to determine how much socioeconomic advantage will compensate for delayed first births and lower lifetime fertility; and [2] we examine the effects of work and education on women's lifetime and age-specific fertility using data from seven cohorts in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID).

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