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Longevity Among Hunter- Gatherers: A Cross-Cultural Examination

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  • Michael Gurven
  • Hillard Kaplan

Abstract

Post-reproductive longevity is a robust feature of human life and not only a recent phenomenon caused by improvements in sanitation, public health, and medical advances. We argue for an adaptive life span of 68-78 years for modern "Homo sapiens" based on our analysis of mortality profiles obtained from small-scale hunter-gatherer and horticultural populations from around the world. We compare patterns of survivorship across the life span, rates of senescence, modal ages at adult death, and causes of death. We attempt to reconcile our results with those derived from paleodemographic studies that characterize prehistoric human lives as "nasty, brutish, and short," and with observations of recent acculturation among contemporary subsistence populations. We integrate information on age-specific dependency and resource production to help explain the adaptive utility of longevity in humans from an evolutionary perspective. Copyright 2007 The Population Council, Inc..

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Gurven & Hillard Kaplan, 2007. "Longevity Among Hunter- Gatherers: A Cross-Cultural Examination," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 33(2), pages 321-365.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:popdev:v:33:y:2007:i:2:p:321-365
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Hillard Kaplan & Michael Gurven, 2008. "Top-down and bottom-up research in biodemography," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 19(44), pages 1587-1602, September.
    2. repec:eee:thpobi:v:90:y:2013:i:c:p:29-35 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. James R. Carey, 2008. "Biodemography: Research prospects and directions," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 19(50), pages 1749-1758, September.
    4. Arthur J. Robson & Larry Samuelson, 2009. "The Evolution of Time Preference with Aggregate Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1925-1953, December.
    5. repec:eee:thpobi:v:82:y:2012:i:4:p:364-376 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:eee:tefoso:v:128:y:2018:i:c:p:296-303 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Arthur Robson & Larry Samuelson, 2008. "The Evolution of Decision and Experienced Utilities," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1678, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Feb 2010.
    8. Annette Baudisch & James W. Vaupel, 2009. "Senescence vs. sustenance: evolutionary-demographic models of aging," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2009-040, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    9. Silke van Daalen & Hal Caswell, 2015. "Lifetime reproduction and the second demographic transition: Stochasticity and individual variation," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 33(20), pages 561-588, September.
    10. repec:spr:demogr:v:54:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s13524-017-0569-z is not listed on IDEAS
    11. repec:eee:thpobi:v:88:y:2013:i:c:p:68-77 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. James W. Vaupel, 2009. "Lively Questions for Demographers about Death at Older Ages," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 35(2), pages 347-356.

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