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Is Menopause Optimal?

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  • Christian Zimmermann

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

Various theories have been put forward to explain the fact that humans experience menopause while virtually no animals do. This paper aims to investigate one such theory: children provide a savings technology into old age, but as human babies are usually large and have long gestation periods, a substantial risk of death exists for the mother as she bears children. It seems therefore appropriate to impose a stopping rule for fertility. Given an objective (support for old age) and demographics (mortality of mother and children), an optimal age for menopause can be calculated. Using demographic data from populations that have seen little influence from modern medicine, this optimal age is compared to empirical evidence.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2004-31.

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Length: 14 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2004-31

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Keywords: menopause; demography; fertility; stopping rule; recursive problems.;

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  1. Sundstrom, William A. & David, Paul A., 1988. "Old-age security motives, labor markets, and farm family fertility in antebellum American," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 164-197, April.
  2. Ted Bergstrom & Oded Stark, . "How Altruism Can Prevail in an Evolutionary Environment," Papers _024, University of Michigan, Department of Economics.
  3. Donald Cox & Oded Stark, 1996. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Demonstration Effect," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 329., Boston College Department of Economics.
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