Human Nature

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 405–418 | Cite as

Height and reproductive success

How a Gambian population compares with the west
  • Rebecca SearEmail author


In Western societies, height is positively correlated with reproductive success (RS) for men but negatively correlated with RS for women. These relationships have been attributed to sexual selection: women prefer tall men, and men prefer short women. It is this success in the marriage market which leads to higher RS for tall men and short women. We have already shown that the relationship between height and RS for women is quite different in a non-Western context. In a subsistence farming community in rural Gambia, height is positively correlated with reproductive success for women, largely owing to the higher survival of the children of tall women. Here, the relationship between height and reproductive success is analyzed for men in the same community. For these Gambian men, there is no significant relationship between height and the number of children they produce, although tall men do contract more marriages than shorter men. We conclude that environmental context needs to be taken into account when analyzing human reproductive behavior.

Key words

Height Reproductive success The Gambia 


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Copyright information

© Transaction Publishers 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social PolicyLondon School of EconomicsLondonUK

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