Page, Abigail, Ringen, Erik, Koster, Jeremy, Mulder, Monique Borgerhoff, Kramer, Karen, Shenk, Mary K., Stieglitz, Jonathan, Starkweather, Kathrine, Ziker, John P., Boyette, Adam H., Colleran, Heidi, Moya, Cristina, Du, Juan, Mattison, Siobhan, Greaves, Russell, Sum, Chun-Yi, Liu, Ruizhe, Lew-Levy, Sheina, Ntamboudila, Francy Kiabiya, Prall, Sean, Towner, Mary C., Blumenfield, Tami, Migliano, Andrea Bamberg, Major-Smith, Daniel, Dyble, Mark, Salali, Gul Deniz, Chaudhary, Nikhil, Derkx, Inez E., Ross, Cody, Scelza, Brooke, Gurven, Michael, Winterhalder, Bruce P., Cortez, Carmen, Pacheco-Cobos, Luis, Schacht, Ryan, Macfarlan, Shane, Leonetti, Donna, French, Eric, Alam, Nurul, Zohora, Fatema Tuz, Kaplan, Hillard, Hooper, Paul L. and Sear, Rebecca (2024) Women’s subsistence strategies predict fertility across cultures, but context matters. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 121 (n° 9).

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Identification Number : 10.1073/pnas.2318181121


While it is commonly assumed that farmers have higher, and foragers lower, fertility compared to populations practicing other forms of subsistence, robust supportive evidence is lacking. We tested whether subsistence activities—incorporating market integration—are associated with fertility in 10,250 women from 27 small-scale societies and found considerable variation in fertility. This variation did not align with group-level subsistence typologies. Societies labeled as “farmers” did not have higher fertility than others, while “foragers” did not have lower fertility. However, at the individual level, we found strong evidence that fertility was positively associated with farming and moderate evidence of a negative relationship between foraging and fertility. Markers of market integration were strongly negatively correlated with fertility. Despite strong cross-cultural evidence, these relationships were not consistent in all populations, highlighting the importance of the socioecological context, which likely influences the diverse mechanisms driving the relationship between fertility and subsistence.

Item Type: Article
Language: English
Date: 12 February 2024
Refereed: Yes
Place of Publication: Washington
Divisions: TSE-R (Toulouse)
Site: UT1
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2024 13:34
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2024 13:34
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