Lawson J, DeBruine LM, Law Smith MJ, Feinberg DR, Cornwell RE, Stirrat MR & Perrett DI (2006). Age of puberty affects reproductive success. Human Behavior and Evolution Society in Philadelphia, PA USA. June 2006.

Life history theory predicts that reproductive strategy should be decided upon early in development. Human pubertal timing should reflect the strategy operated by an individual, whether low investment (producing high numbers of low quality offspring) or high investment (producing low numbers of high quality offspring). Individuals placed under early-life stress are expected to operate the former strategy, mature earlier and have more children (Wilson and Daly, 1997; Moffitt et al. 1992). We analysed questionnaire data from a sample of over 20 000 individuals aged 25-80 (in collaboration with the BBC). Socio-economic status (SES, as a measure of life stress) predicts number of offspring. Contrary to prediction, males reporting early pubertal development produced fewer children than later developing males (controlling for SES, and age). Pubertal timing had no significant effect on the number of children produced by females. Results will be discussed in terms of the evolution of human mating strategy.

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