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An evolutionary perspective on kin care directed up the generations

Arnot, M; Mace, R; (2021) An evolutionary perspective on kin care directed up the generations. Scientific Reports , 11 , Article 14163. 10.1038/s41598-021-93652-4. Green open access

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Abstract

Within evolutionary sciences, care towards younger kin is well understood from an inclusive fitness framework, but why adults would care for older relatives has been less well researched. One existing model has argued that care directed towards elderly parents might be adaptive because of their benefits as carers themselves, with their help freeing up the middle generations’ energy which can then be invested into direct reproduction. However, in this model, elder care is more beneficial to fitness if the carer is fecund. To offer an initial test of this hypothesis, we look at caring behaviour relative to fecundity status in a contemporary dataset from the United Kingdom. If elder care is contingent on possible direct fitness benefits, we would expect women who are still menstruating to care more for their parents than women who can no longer reproduce. Based on this, we also predict that women who are physiologically post-reproductive would invest more in their grandchildren, through whom they can increase their inclusive fitness. After controlling for age and other relevant factors, we find that women who are still menstruating spend more time caring for their parents than those who are not, and the reverse is true when looking at time spent caring for grandchildren. These findings demonstrate that potential inclusive fitness outcomes influence how women allocate care up and down the generations.

Type: Article
Title: An evolutionary perspective on kin care directed up the generations
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-93652-4
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-93652-4
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Behavioural ecology, Biological anthropology
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/10132395
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