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Children are important too: juvenile playgroups and maternal childcare in a foraging population, the Agta

Page, AE; Emmott, EH; Dyble, M; Smith, D; Chaudhary, N; Viguier, S; Migliano, AB; (2021) Children are important too: juvenile playgroups and maternal childcare in a foraging population, the Agta. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences , 376 (1827) 10.1098/rstb.2020.0026. Green open access

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Abstract

Non-maternal carers (allomothers) are hypothesized to lighten the mother's workload, allowing for the specialized human life history including relatively short interbirth intervals and multiple dependent offspring. Here, using in-depth observational data on childcare provided to 78 Agta children (a foraging population in the northern Philippines; aged 0–6 years), we explore whether allomaternal childcare substitutes and decreases maternal childcare. We found that allomother caregiving was associated with reduced maternal childcare, but the substitutive effect varied depending on the source and type of care. Children-only playgroups consistently predicted a decrease in maternal childcare. While grandmothers were rarely available, their presence was negatively associated with maternal presence and childcare, and grandmothers performed similar childcare activities to mothers. These results underscore the importance of allomothering in reducing maternal childcare in the Agta. Our findings suggest that flexibility in childcare sources, including children-only playgroups, may have been the key to human life-history evolution. Overall, our results reinforce the necessity of a broad conceptualization of social support in human childcare. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Multidisciplinary perspectives on social support and maternal–child health’.

Type: Article
Title: Children are important too: juvenile playgroups and maternal childcare in a foraging population, the Agta
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2020.0026
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2020.0026
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: childcare, hunter–gatherers, allomothering, playgroups, support, grandmothers
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10127103
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