Cross-country relationships between life expectancy, intertemporal choice and age at first birth

Adam Bulley*, Gillian V. Pepper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Humans, like other animals, typically discount the value of delayed rewards relative to those available in the present. From an evolutionary perspective, prioritising immediate rewards is a predictable response to high local mortality rates, as is an acceleration of reproductive scheduling. In a sample of 46 countries, we explored the cross-country relationships between average life expectancy, intertemporal choice, and women's age at first birth. We find that, across countries, lower life expectancy is associated with both a smaller percentage of people willing to wait for a larger but delayed reward, as well as a younger age at first birth. These results, which hold when controlling for region and economic pressure (GDP-per capita), dovetail with findings at the individual level to suggest that life expectancy is an important ecological predictor of both intertemporal and reproductive decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)652-658
Number of pages7
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Volume38
Issue number5
Early online date4 May 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes

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