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)
10 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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