When social status gets in the way of reproduction in modern settings: An evolutionary mismatch perspective

Jose C. Yong, Amy J. Lim, Norman P. Li

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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AbstractLow fertility is a growing concern in modern societies. While economic and structural explanations of reproductive hindrances have been informative to some extent, they do not address the fundamental motives that underlie reproductive decisions and are inadequate to explain why East Asian countries, in particular, have such low fertility rates. The current paper advances a novel account of low fertility in modern contexts by describing how modern environments produce a mismatch between our evolved mechanisms and the inputs they were designed to process, leading to preoccupations with social status that get in the way of mating and reproductive outcomes. We also utilize developed East Asian countries as a case study to further highlight how culture may interact with modern features to produce ultralow fertility, sometimes to the extent that people may give up on parenthood or even mating altogether. Through our analysis, we integrate several lines of separate research, elucidate the fundamental dynamics that drive trade-offs between social status and reproductive effort, add to the growing literature on evolutionary mismatch, and provide an improved account of low fertility in modern contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalCulture and Evolution
Early online date4 Apr 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Apr 2023

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