Document Type


Publication Date



Researchers across the social sciences have long been interested in families. How people make decisions such as who to marry, when to have a baby, how big or small a family to have, or whether to stay with a partner or stray are questions that continue to interest economists, sociologists, demographers, and anthropologists. Human families vary across the globe; different cultures have different marriage practices, different ideas about who raises children, and even different notions of what a family is. Human behavioral ecology is a branch of anthropology that is particularly interested in cultural variation of family systems and how these differences impact upon the people that inhabit them; the children, parents, grandparents. It draws on evolutionary theory to direct research and generate testable hypotheses to uncover how different ecologies, including social contexts, can explain diversity in families. In this Special Issue on the behavioral ecology of the family, we have collated a selection of papers that showcase just how useful this framework is for understanding cultural variation in families, which we hope will convince other social scientists interested in family research to draw upon evolutionary and ecological insight in their own work.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Included in

Anthropology Commons