UNLV’S Department of Anthropology Presents: Costs of Reproduction, Maternal Depletion and Health, a talk by Dr. Michael Gurven, professor of anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara.
Sex differences in human mortality, health and well-being have been documented worldwide. Explanations often focus on differences in intrinsic senescence, risky behavior, and attentiveness to healthcare. Another explanation posits that costs of reproduction unique to women may belargely responsible for the differential rates of physical decline in adulthood. The logic here is that energetic resources spent on reproduction may trade-off against investments in survival. Dr. Gurven develops and explores these ideas by presenting a preliminary study of sex differences in adult health and physical condition among small-scale, natural fertility populations of hunter-gatherers and horticulturalists. Dr. Gurven finds that greater reproduction exerts specific costs on women's health, but does not seem to alter the general rate of senescence.