Evolutionary contributions to the study of human fertility.
- Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
: Demography, lacking an overarching theoretical framework of its own, has drawn on theories in many other social sciences to inform its analyses. The aim of this paper is to bring to the demographic community's attention research in the evolutionary sciences on fertility, and to demonstrate that evolutionary theory can be another useful tool in the demographer's toolkit. I first dispel some myths which impede the incorporation of evolutionary theory into demography: I make it clear that evolutionary explanations do not assume that all human behaviour is hardwired and functions to maximize genetic fitness; that they are able to explain variation in human behaviour; and that they are not necessarily alternatives to social science explanations. I then describe the diversity of work on fertility by evolutionary researchers, particularly human evolutionary ecologists and cultural evolutionists, and illustrate the usefulness of the evolutionary approach with examples of its application to age at first birth and the fertility transition.<br/>
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