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1 April 2012 Resource Availability, Mortality, and Fertility: A Path Analytic Approach to Global Life-History Variation
Mark A. Caudell, Robert J. Quinlan
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Abstract

Humans exhibit considerable diversity in timing and rate of reproduction. Life-history theory (LHT) suggests that ecological cues of resource richness and survival probabilities shape human phenotypes across populations. Populations experiencing high extrinsic mortality due to uncertainty in resources should exhibit faster life histories. Here we use a path analytic (PA) approach informed by LHT to model the multiple pathways between resources, mortality rates, and reproductive behavior in 191 countries. Resources that account for the most variance in population mortality rates are predicted to explain the most variance in total fertility rates. Results indicate that resources (e.g., calories, sanitation, education, and health-care expenditures) influence fertility rates in paths through communicable and noncommnunicable diseases. Paths acting through communicable disease are more strongly associated with fertility than are paths through noncommunicable diseases. These results suggest that a PA approach may help disaggregate extrinsic and intrinsic mortality factors in cross-cultural analyses. Such knowledge may be useful in developing targeted policies to decrease teenage pregnancy, total fertility rates, and thus issues associated with overpopulation.

© 2012 Wayne State University Press, Detroit, Michigan 48201-1309.
Mark A. Caudell and Robert J. Quinlan "Resource Availability, Mortality, and Fertility: A Path Analytic Approach to Global Life-History Variation," Human Biology 84(2), 101-125, (1 April 2012). https://doi.org/10.3378/027.084.0201
Received: 20 October 2011; Accepted: 1 January 2012; Published: 1 April 2012
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KEYWORDS
life-history theory
mortality
path analysis
TEENAGE PREGNANCY
TOTAL FERTILITY RATE
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