Income and Sex Moderate the Association Between Population Density and Reproduction: A Multilevel Analysis of Life History Strategies Across 23 Nations

Jose Yong*, Chun Hui Lim , Peter K. Jonason, Andrew G. Thomas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While previous studies guided by evolutionary life history theory have revealed several important socioecological moderators of the influence of population density (PD) on reproduction, absent is an understanding of how individual-level factors such as personal resources and sex differences might interact and play a role. Using data from a large sample of clients (N = 4,432,440) of an online dating company spanning 317 states nested within 23 countries, we contributed a robust multilevel analysis of life history effects by assessing the interaction between state-level PD and individual-level income on offspring quantity, and we further qualified this analysis by sex. Consistent with previous research, PD was negatively correlated with having children. Consistent with our novel hypotheses, this negative relationship was moderated by income such that the link between PD and low fertility became weaker with increasing levels of income and these patterns were stronger for men than for women. These results held despite controlling for a variety of country-level, state-level, and individual-level confounds. Findings are discussed together with theoretical and practical implications for the management of fertility based on evolutionary life history perspectives.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Early online date22 Jul 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jul 2024

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