Abigail E. Page, Brunel University of London
Erik J. Ringen, University of Zürich
Jeremy Koster, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Karen Kramer, University of Utah
Mary K. Shenk, Penn State College of the Liberal Arts
Jonathan Stieglitz, Universite Toulouse
Kathrine Starkweather, University of Illinois Chicago
John P. Ziker, Boise State UniversityFollow
Adam H. Boyette, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Heidi Colleran, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Cristina Moya, University of California
Juan Du, Lanzhou University
Siobhán M. Mattison, University of New Mexico
Russell Greaves, University of New Mexico
Chun-Yi Sum, Boston University
Ruizhe Liu, University of New Mexico
Sheina Lew-Levy, Durham University
Francy Kiabiya Ntamboudila, Marien Ngouabi University
Sean Prall, University of Missouri
Mary C. Towner, Oklahoma State University
Tami Blumenfield, University of New Mexico
Andrea B. Migliano, Universität Zürich
Daniel Major-Smith, University of Bristol
Mark Dyble, University of Cambridge
Gul Deniz Salali, University College London
Nikhil Chaudhary, University of Cambridge
Inez E. Derkx, Universität Zürich
Cody T. Ross, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Brooke A. Scelza, University of California
Michael D. Gurven, University of California
Bruce P. Winterhalder, University of California
Carmen Cortez, Community Agroecology Network
Luis Pacheco-Cobos, Universidad Veracruzana
Ryan Schacht, East Carolina University
Shane J. Macfarlan, University of Utah
Donna Leonetti, University of Washington
Jennifer C. French, University of Liverpool
Nurul Alam, International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research
Fatema Tuz Zohora, International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research
Hillard S. Kaplan, University of New Mexico
Paul L. Hooper, University of New Mexico
Rebecca Sear, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

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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.

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

Available for download on Tuesday, August 27, 2024

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