Increased mortality exposure within the family rather than individual mortality experiences triggers faster life-history strategies in historic human populations
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Open Access - Publikationsfonds
Insitut für Philosophie
Kurzfassung auf Englisch:
Life History Theory predicts that extrinsic mortality risk is one of the most important factors shaping (human) life histories. Evidence from contemporary populations suggests that individuals confronted with high mortality environments show characteristic traits of fast life-history strategies: they marry and reproduce earlier, have shorter birth intervals and invest less in their offspring. However, little is known of the impact of mortality experiences on the speed of life histories in historical human populations with generally higher mortality risk, and on male life histories in particular. Furthermore, it remains unknown whether individual-level mortality experiences within the family have a greater effect on life-history decisions or family membership explains life-history variation. In a comparative approach using event history analyses, we study the impact of family versus individual-level effects of mortality exposure on two central life-history parameters, ages at first marriage and first birth, in three historical human populations (Germany, Finland, Canada). Mortality experience is measured as the confrontation with sibling deaths within the natal family up to an individual´s age of 15. Results show that the speed of life histories is not adjusted according to individual-level mortality experiences but is due to family-level effects. The general finding of lower ages at marriage/reproduction after exposure to higher mortality in the family holds for both females and males. This study provides evidence for the importance of the family environment for reproductive timing while individual-level mortality experiences seem to play only a minor role in reproductive life history decisions in humans.
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