Advertisement

Human Nature

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 124–139 | Cite as

Extrinsic Mortality Effects on Reproductive Strategies in a Caribbean Community

  • Robert J. Quinlan
Article

Abstract

Extrinsic mortality is a key influence on organisms’ life history strategies, especially on age at maturity. This historical longitudinal study of 125 women in rural Domenica examines effects of extrinsic mortality on human age at maturity and pace of reproduction. Extrinsic mortality is indicated by local population infant mortality rates during infancy and at maturity between the years 1925 and 2000. Extrinsic mortality shows effects on age at first birth and pace of reproduction among these women. Parish death records show huge historical variation in age-specific mortality rates. The infant mortality rate (IMR) in the early 1920s was low, increased dramatically beginning in 1929, and reached a maximum in the 1950s, at which point IMR declined steadily to its present low rate. The mortality rate early in life showed a quadratic association with age at first birth. Women who experienced conditions of low IMR early in life reproduced relatively late in life. Those born into moderately high levels of infant mortality tended to reproduce earlier than those born at low levels. At very high infant mortality levels early in life, women went on to delay reproduction until relatively late, possibly as a result of somatic depletion and energetic stress associated with the conditions that lead to high IMR. Population mortality rates at age of maturity also showed a quadratic association with age at first birth. The pace of reproduction, estimated as number of surviving offspring controlled for maternal age, showed a similar quadratic effect. There were complex interactions between population mortality rates in infancy and at maturity. When extrinsic mortality was high during infancy, extrinsic mortality later in life had little effect on timing of first birth. When extrinsic mortality was low to moderate in infancy, extrinsic mortality later in life had significant effects on adult reproduction. I speculate that these effects are mediated through development of personality facets associated with reproduction.

Keywords

Risk Teen pregnancy Child development Evolutionary ecology Behavioral ecology Demography Personality 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Thanks to the Saint Sauveur Roman Catholic Church for access to St. David Parish historical birth and death records. Thanks to friends in Bwa Mawego (too many to mention here) for their tremendous help with local oral histories and ethnographic interviews. Thanks to Heather Bonander for research assistance with the historical demographic data. Thanks to the Central Statistics Office of the Commonwealth of Dominica for research permission. Thanks to Drs. Marsha Quinlan and Mark Flinn for constant collegial support. This research was funded in part by NSF Cultural Anthropology grant BCS-0650317.

References

  1. Aklin, W. M., Lejuez, C. W., Zvolensky, M. J., Kahler, C. W., & Gwadz, M. (2005). Evaluation of behavioral measures of risk taking propensity with inner city adolescents. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 43, 215–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Belsky, J., Steinberg, L., & Draper, P. (1991). Childhood experience, interpersonal development, and reproductive strategy: An evolutionary theory of socialization. Child Development, 62, 647–670.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Borgerhoff Mulder, M. (1992). Reproductive decisions. In E. A. Smith & B. Winterhalder (Eds.), Evolutionary ecology & human behavior (pp. 339–374). New York: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  4. Charnov, E. L. (1991). Evolution of life-history variation among female mammals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 88, 1134–1137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chisholm, J. S. (1993). Death, hope, and sex: Life history theory and the development of reproductive strategies. Current Anthropology, 34, 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chisholm, J. (1999a). Death, hope and sex: Steps to an evolutionary ecology of mind and morality. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chisholm, J. (1999b). Attachment and time preference: Relations between early stress and sexual behavior in a sample of American university women. Human Nature, 10, 51–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chisholm, J. S., Quinlivan, J. A., Petersen, R. W., & Coall, D. A. (2005). Early stress predicts age at menarche and first birth, adult attachment, and expected lifespan. Human Nature, 16, 233–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Comings, D. E., Muhleman, D., Johnson, J. P., & MacMurray, J. P. (2002). Parent-daughter transmission of the androgen receptor gene as an explanation of the effect of father absence on age of menarche. Child Development, 73, 1046–1051.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) and NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) professional manual. Odessa: Psychological Assessment Resources.Google Scholar
  11. Donohew, L., Zimmerman, R., Cupp, P. S., Novak, S., Colon, S., & Abell, R. (2000). Sensation seeking, impulsive decision-making, and risky sex: Implications for risk-taking and design of interventions. Personality and Individual Differences, 68, 1079–1091.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Draper, P., & Harpending, H. (1982). Father absence and reproductive strategy: An evolutionary perspective. Journal of Anthropological Research, 38, 255–279.Google Scholar
  13. Elder, G. H., Caspi, A., & Downey, G. (1986). Problem behavior and family relationships: Life course and intergenerational themes. In A. B. Sørensen, F. E. Weinert, & L. R. Sherrod (Eds.), Human development and the life course: Multidisciplinary perspectives (pp. 293–340). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  14. Ellis, B. J. (2004). Timing of pubertal maturation in girls: An integrated life history approach. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 920–958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ellis, B. J., McFadyen-Ketchum, S., Dodge, K., Pettit, G., & Bates, J. (1999). Quality of early family relationships and individual differences in the timing of pubertal maturation in girls: A longitudinal test of an evolutionary model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 387–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Flinn, M. V., Quinlan, R., Coe, K., & Ward, C. (2008). Evolution of the human family. In C. Salmon & T. Shackelford (Eds.), Family relations: An evolutionary perspective (pp. 16–38). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Gant, L., Heath, K. M., & Ejikeme, G. G. (2009). Early motherhood, high mortality and HIV/AIDS rates in sub-Saharan Afirica. Social Work in Public Health, 24, 39–46. doi: 10.1080/19371910802569435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gerald, M. S., Higley, S., Lussier, I. D., Westergaard, G. C., Suomi, S. J., & Higley, J. D. (2002). Variation in reproductive outcomes for captive male rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) differing in CSF 5-Hydroxyindoleascetic acid concentrations. Brain, Behavior and Evolution, 60, 117–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Harpending, H., Draper, P., & Pennington, R. (1990). Cultural evolution, parental care and mortality. In A. C. Swedlund & G. J. Armelgos (Eds.), Disease in populations in transition: Anthropological and epidemiological perspectives (pp. 251–265). New York: Bergin & Garvey.Google Scholar
  20. Honeychurch, L. (1995). The Dominica story: A history of the island. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  21. Hoyle, R. H., Fejfar, M. C., & Miller, J. D. (2000). Personality and sexual risk taking: A quantitative review. Journal of Personality, 68, 1203–1231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jackson, Y., Frick, P., & Dravage-Bush, J. (2000). Perceptions of control in children with externalizing and mixed behavior disorders. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 31, 43–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Loue, S., Cooper, M., Traore, F., & Fiedler, J. (2004). Locus of control and HIV risk among a sample of Mexican & Puerto Rican women. Journal of Immigrant Health, 6, 155–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Low, B. S., Hazel, A., Parker, N., & Welch, K. B. (2008). Influences on women’s reproductive lives: Unexpected ecological underpinnings. Cross-Cultural Research, 42, 201–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. O’Connor, T. G., Bredenkamp, D., & Rutter, M. (1999). Attachment disturbances and disorders in children exposed to early severe deprivation. Infant Mental Health Journal, 20, 10–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Promislow, D. E. L., & Harvey, P. H. (1990). Living fast and dying young: A comparative analysis of life-history variation among mammals. Journal of the Zoological Society of London, 220, 417–437.Google Scholar
  27. Promislow, D. E. L., & Harvey, P. H. (1991). Mortality rates and the evolution of mammal life histories. Acta Oecologica, 12, 119–137.Google Scholar
  28. Quinlan, R. J. (2003). Father-absence, parental care & female reproductive development. Evolution and Human Behavior, 24, 367–390.Google Scholar
  29. Quinlan, M. B. (2004). From the bush: The front line of health care in a Caribbean village. Belmont: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  30. Quinlan, R. J. (2006). Gender and risk in matrifocal Caribbean community. American Anthropologist, 108, 464–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Quinlan, R. J. (2007). Human parental effort and environmental risk. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B: Biological Science, 274, 121–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Quinlan, R. J., & Flinn, M. V. (2003). Intergenerational transmission of conjugal stability in a Caribbean village. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 34, 569–583.Google Scholar
  33. Quinlan, R. J., & Flinn, M. V. (2005). Kinship, sex, and fitness in a Caribbean community. Human Nature, 16, 36–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Quinlan, R. J., & Hagen, E. (2008). New genealogy: It’s not just for kinship anymore. Field Methods, 20, 129–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Quinlan, R. J., & Quinlan, M. B. (2007). Parenting & cultures of risk: A comparative analysis of infidelity, aggression & witchcraft. American Anthropologist, 109, 164–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Robbins, R. N., & Bryan, A. (2004). Relationships between future orientation, impulsive sensation seeking, and risk behavior among adjudicated adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Research, 19, 428–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Roff, D. A. (2002). Life history evolution. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates.Google Scholar
  38. Rutter, M. (2007). Proceeding from observed correlation to casual inference: The use of natural experiments. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2, 377–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rutter, M., & O’Connor, T. (2004). Are there biological programming effects for psychological development? Findings from a study of Romanian adoptees. Developmental Psychology, 40, 81–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rutter, M., Beckett, C., Castle, J., Colvert, E., Kreppner, J., & Mehta, M. (2007). Effects of profound early institutional deprivation. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 4, 332–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Schechter, D. E., & Francis, C. (2010). A life history approach to understanding youth time preference: Mechanisms of environmental risk and uncertainty and attitudes towards risk behavior and education. Human Nature, 21, doi: 10.1007/s12110-010-9084-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Stearns, S. C. (1992). The evolution of life histories. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Trobst, K. K., Herbst, J. H., Masters, H. L., & Costa, P. T. (2002). Personality pathways to unsafe sex: Personality, condom use and HIV risk behaviors. Journal of Research in Personality, 36, 117–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. U.S. Census Bureau (2008). International data base. Available online at www.census.gov/ipc/www/idbnew.html; accessed November 2008.
  45. Vitzthum, V. J. (2001). Why not so great is still good enough: Flexible responsiveness in human reproductive functioning. In P. T. Ellison (Ed.), Reproductive ecology and human evolution (pp. 179–202). New York: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  46. Walker, R. S., Gurven, M., Hill, K., Migliano, A., Chagnon, N., De Souza, R., et al. (2006). Growth rates and life histories in twenty-two small-scale societies. American Journal of Human Biology, 18, 295–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Werner-Wilson, R. J. (1998). Gender differences in adolescent sexual attitudes: The influence of individual and family factors. Adolescence, 33, 519–531.Google Scholar
  48. Whitham, C. (2002). Bitter rehearsal: British and American planning for a post-war West Indies. Westport: Praeger.Google Scholar
  49. Whiting, B. (1980). Culture and social behavior: A model for the development of social behavior. Ethos, 8, 95–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wilson, M., & Daly, M. (1997). Life expectancy, economic inequality, homicide, and reproductive timing in Chicago neighbourhoods. British Medical Journal, 314, 1271–1281.Google Scholar
  51. Young, T. M., Martin, S. S., Young, M. E., & Ting, L. (2001). Internal poverty and teen pregnancy. Adolescence, 36, 289–304.Google Scholar
  52. Young, T., Turner, J., Denny, G., & Young, M. (2004). Examining external and internal poverty as antecedents of teen pregnancy. American Journal of Health Behavior, 28, 361–373.Google Scholar
  53. Zuckerman, M., & Kuhlman, D. M. (2000). Personality and risk-taking: Common biosocial factors. Journal of Personality, 68, 999–1029.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA

Personalised recommendations