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Human Nature

, 20:375 | Cite as

Maternal Time Allocation in Two Cooperative Childrearing Societies

  • Courtney L. Meehan
Article

Abstract

This paper examines maternal trade-offs between subsistence/economic activities and caregiving, and it explores the effect of allomaternal investment on maternal time allocation and child care. I examine how nonmaternal investment in two multiple caregiving populations may offset possible risk factors associated with reductions in maternal caregiving. Behavioral observations were conducted on 8- to 12-month-old infants and their caregivers among the Aka tropical forest foragers and Ngandu farmers of Central Africa. Analysis demonstrates that mothers face trade-offs between subsistence/economic activities and infant care. Infants receive less investment when their mothers engage in subsistence/economic activities, indicating a potential risk to those infants. However, results indicate that allomothers target their assistance during times when mothers are engaged in work activities, partially offsetting potential risks associated with the maternal trade-off. The effects of intercultural variability on maternal time allocation and allomaternal investment are also explored as a means of examining the potential impact of their behaviors on infant care.

Keywords

Allomothers Cooperative breeding Time allocation Hunter-gatherers Farmers 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I thank the Aka and Ngandu for allowing me to conduct research in their communities. Special thanks to the focal families who opened their lives and their homes to me. I also thank Andrew Duff and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions and comments.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA

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