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Life Expectancy in Hunter-Gatherers


Hunter-gatherer lifespan; Traditional life-expectancy


The average period an individual may expect to live among nomadic peoples who rely primarily on hunting, fishing, and harvesting wild foods.


Hunter-gatherers do not experience short, nasty, and brutish lives as some earlier scholars have suggested (Vallois 1961). Instead, there appears to be a characteristic life span for Homo sapiens, in that on average, human bodies function well for about seven decades. These seven decades start with high infant mortality rates that rapidly decline through childhood, followed by a period in which mortality remains essentially the same to about 40 years. After this period, mortality rates rise steadily until around 70 years of age (Gurven and Kaplan 2007). Of course, mortality rates differ geographically and temporally, especially in the risks of violent deaths and disease. However, these differences are minimal when compared on a global scale, and the mortality...

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Correspondence to Brea McCauley .

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McCauley, B. (2019). Life Expectancy in Hunter-Gatherers. In: Shackelford, T., Weekes-Shackelford, V. (eds) Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. Springer, Cham.

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