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Flexibility in reproductive timing in human females: integrating ultimate and proximate explanations

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Daniel Nettle

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Abstract

From an ultimate perspective, the age of onset of female reproduction should be sensitive to variation in mortality rates, and variation in the productivity of non-reproductive activities. In accordance with this prediction, most of the cross-national variation in women's age at first birth can be explained by differences in female life expectancies and incomes. The within-country variation in England shows a similar pattern: women have children younger in neighbourhoods where the expectation of healthy life is shorter and incomes are lower. I consider the proximate mechanisms likely to be involved in producing locally appropriate reproductive decisions. There is evidence suggesting that developmental induction, social learning and contextual evocation may all play a role.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Nettle D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London: Biological Sciences

Year: 2011

Volume: 366

Issue: 1563

Pages: 357-365

Print publication date: 01/02/2011

ISSN (print): 0962-8452

ISSN (electronic): 1471-2954

Publisher: The Royal Society Publishing

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2010.0073

DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0073


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