Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B

ISSN

1471-2970

Volume

374

Issue

1770

First Page

20180124

Last Page

20180124

PubMed ID

30966893

Publisher

Royal Society of London

School

School of Medical and Health Sciences

RAS ID

28353

Funders

This study was funded by Edith Cowan University (Visiting Fellow and Capability Enhancement Grants) and the European Research Council (StG-2010 263760-FAMMAT).

Comments

Originally published as: Sear, R., Sheppard, P., & Coall, D. A. (2019). Cross-cultural evidence does not support universal acceleration of puberty in father-absent households. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 374(1770), Article 20180124. Original publication available here

Abstract

Father absence in early life has been shown to be associated with accelerated reproductive development in girls. Evolutionary social scientists have proposed several adaptive hypotheses for this finding. Though there is variation in the detail of these hypotheses, they all assume that family environment in early life influences the development of life-history strategy, and, broadly, that early reproductive development is an adaptive response to father absence. Empirical evidence to support these hypotheses, however, has been derived from WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic) populations. Data from a much broader range of human societies are necessary in order to properly test adaptive hypotheses. Here, we review the empirical literature on father absence and puberty in both sexes, focusing on recent studies that have tested this association beyond the WEIRD world. We find that relationships between father absence and age at puberty are more varied in contexts beyond WEIRD societies, and when relationships beyond the father-daughter dyad are considered. This has implications for our understanding of how early-life environment is linked to life-history strategies, and for our understanding of pathways to adult health outcomes, given that early reproductive development may be linked to negative health outcomes in later life. This article is part of the theme issue 'Developing differences: early-life effects and evolutionary medicine'.

DOI

10.1098/rstb.2018.0124

Creative Commons License

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

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