Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Life-history tradeoffs in a historical population (1896-1939) undergoing rapid fertility decline: Costs of reproduction?


Jaeggi, Adrian V; Martin, Jordan S; Floris, Joël; Bender, Nicole; Haeusler, Martin; Sear, Rebecca; Staub, Kaspar (2022). Life-history tradeoffs in a historical population (1896-1939) undergoing rapid fertility decline: Costs of reproduction? Evolutionary Human Sciences, 4:e7.

Abstract

Evolutionary demographers often invoke tradeoffs between reproduction and survival to explain reductions in fertility during demographic transitions. The evidence for such tradeoffs in humans has been mixed, partly because tradeoffs may be masked by individual differences in quality or access to resources. Unmasking tradeoffs despite such phenotypic correlations requires sophisticated statistical analyses that account for endogeneity among variables and individual differences in access to resources. Here we tested for costs of reproduction using N=13,663 birth records from the maternity hospital in Basel, Switzerland, 1896-1939, a period characterized by rapid fertility declines . We predicted that higher parity is associated with worse maternal and offspring condition at the time of birth, adjusting for age and a variety of covariates. We used Bayesian multivariate, multilevel models to simultaneously analyze multiple related outcomes while accounting for endogeneity, appropriately modeling non-linear effects, dealing with hierarchical data structures, and effectively imputing missing data. Despite all these efforts, we found virtually no evidence for costs of reproduction. Instead, women with better access to resources had fewer children. Barring limitations of the data, these results are consistent with demographic transitions reflecting women's investment in their own embodied capital and/or the adoption of maladaptive low-fertility norms by elites.

Abstract

Evolutionary demographers often invoke tradeoffs between reproduction and survival to explain reductions in fertility during demographic transitions. The evidence for such tradeoffs in humans has been mixed, partly because tradeoffs may be masked by individual differences in quality or access to resources. Unmasking tradeoffs despite such phenotypic correlations requires sophisticated statistical analyses that account for endogeneity among variables and individual differences in access to resources. Here we tested for costs of reproduction using N=13,663 birth records from the maternity hospital in Basel, Switzerland, 1896-1939, a period characterized by rapid fertility declines . We predicted that higher parity is associated with worse maternal and offspring condition at the time of birth, adjusting for age and a variety of covariates. We used Bayesian multivariate, multilevel models to simultaneously analyze multiple related outcomes while accounting for endogeneity, appropriately modeling non-linear effects, dealing with hierarchical data structures, and effectively imputing missing data. Despite all these efforts, we found virtually no evidence for costs of reproduction. Instead, women with better access to resources had fewer children. Barring limitations of the data, these results are consistent with demographic transitions reflecting women's investment in their own embodied capital and/or the adoption of maladaptive low-fertility norms by elites.

Statistics

Citations

Dimensions.ai Metrics
2 citations in Web of Science®
2 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Downloads

44 downloads since deposited on 25 Feb 2022
9 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Evolutionary Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Applied Psychology, Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:21 February 2022
Deposited On:25 Feb 2022 05:19
Last Modified:27 May 2024 01:55
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:2513-843X
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1017/ehs.2022.2
PubMed ID:35611262
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100018_156683
  • : Project TitleBirth weight of newborns as a mirror of womenâ��s standard of living: Evidence from birth records in the city of Basle 1888-1939
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID31003A_176319
  • : Project TitleBirth and human evolution - implications from computer-assisted reconstructions
  • Content: Accepted Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)