Die Young, Live Fast: The Evolution of an Underclass

Mairi Macleod, New Scientist, July 22, 2010

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There is no reason to view the poor as stupid or in any way different from anyone else, says Daniel Nettle of the University of Newcastle in the UK. All of us are simply human beings, making the best of the hand life has dealt us. {snip}

Evolutionary theory predicts that if you are a mammal growing up in a harsh, unpredictable environment where you are susceptible to disease and might die young, then you should follow a “fast” reproductive strategy–grow up quickly, and have offspring early and close together so you can ensure leaving some viable progeny before you become ill or die. For a range of animal species there is evidence that this does happen. Now research suggests that humans are no exception.

Certainly the theory holds up in comparisons between people in rich and poor countries. Bobbi Low and her colleagues at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor compared information from nations across the world to see if the age at which women have children changes according to their life expectancy (Cross-Cultural Research, vol 42, p 201). {snip}

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