Grandmotherhood: The Evolutionary Significance of the Second Half of Female Life

Overview

By the year 2030, the average life expectancy of women in industrialized countries could reach ninety—exceeding that of men by about ten years. At the present time, postmenopausal women represent more than fifteen percent of the world’s population and this figure is likely to grow.

From an evolutionary perspective, these demographic numbers pose some intriguing questions. Darwinian theory holds that a successful life is measured in terms of reproduction. How is it, then, that a ...

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Overview

By the year 2030, the average life expectancy of women in industrialized countries could reach ninety—exceeding that of men by about ten years. At the present time, postmenopausal women represent more than fifteen percent of the world’s population and this figure is likely to grow.

From an evolutionary perspective, these demographic numbers pose some intriguing questions. Darwinian theory holds that a successful life is measured in terms of reproduction. How is it, then, that a woman’s lifespan can greatly exceed her childbearing and childrearing years? Is this phenomenon simply a byproduct of improved standards of living, or do older women—grandmothers in particular—play a measurable role in increasing their family members’ biological success?

Until now, these questions have not been examined in a thorough and comprehensive manner. Bringing together theoretical and empirical work by internationally recognized scholars in anthropology, psychology, ethnography, and the social sciences, Grandmotherhood explores the evolutionary purpose and possibilities of female post-generative life. Students and scholars of human evolution, anthropology, and even gerontology will look to this volume as a major contribution to the current literature in evolutionary studies.

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Editorial Reviews

author of From Mukogodo to Maasai: Ethnicity and Cultural Change in Kenya - Lee Cronk

"An important contribution to the literature, not just on grandmothers, but on human evolution generally. This edited volume provides a forum in which a rapidly developing view of human evolution can coalesce."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813571416
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 10/31/2014
  • Edition description: First Paperback Edition
  • Pages: 354
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Eckart Voland is a professor of biophilosophy at the Institute of Philosophy and Foundations of Science at the University of Giessen in Germany.

Athanasios Chasiotis is an associate professor at the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Tilburg University, the Netherlands.

Wulf Schiefenhövel is the head of the human ethology group, Max-Planck-Institute, Andechs/Seewiesen in Germany and a professor of medical psychology and ethnomedicine at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich.

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Table of Contents


Preface and Acknowledgements  

Introduction   Grandmotherhood: A Short Overview of Three Fields of Research on the Evolutionary Significance of Postgenerative Female Life
Eckart Voland, Athanasios Chasiotis, and Wulf Schiefenhövel   

Part I   LIFE HISTORY: The Evolutionary Route to Grandmothers
   Chapter 1   Primate Predispositions for Human Grandmaternal Behavior
   Andreas Paul   
   Chapter 2   Menopause: Adaptation and Epiphenomenon
   Jocelyn Scott Peccei   
   Chapter 3   Human Longevity and Reproduction: An Evolutionary Perspective
   Natalia S. Gavrilova and Leonid A. Gavrilov   
   Chapter 4   Grandmothers, Politics, and Getting Back to Science
   Chris Knight and Camilla Power   
   Chapter 5   Human Female Longevity: How Important Is Being a Grandmother?
   Cheryl Sorenson Jamison, Paul L. Jamison, and Laurel L. Cornell   
   Chapter 6   Human Age Structures, Paleodemography, and the Grandmother Hypothesis
   Kristen Hawkes and Nicholas Blurton Jones   

Part II   BEHAVIOR: Modern Outcomes of Past Adaptations
   Chapter 7   Are Humans Cooperative Breeders?
   Ruth Mace and Rebecca Sear   
   Chapter 8   Hadza Grandmothers as Helpers: Residence Data
   Nicholas Blurton Jones, Kristen Hawkes, and James O'Connell   
   Chapter 9   The Role of Maternal Grandmothers in Trobriand Adoptions
   Wulf Schiefenhövel and Andreas Grabolle   
   Chapter 10   Kinship Organization and the Impact of Grandmothers on Reproductive Success among
   the Matrilineal Khasi and Patrilineal Bengali of Northeast India
   Donna L. Leonetti, Dilip C. Nath, Natabar S. Hemam, and Dawn B. Neill   
   Chapter 11   The Helping and the Helpful Grandmother: The Role of Maternal and Paternal Grandmothers in Child Mortality
   in the Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Population of French Settlers in Quebec, Canada
   Jan Beise   
   Chapter 12   "The Husband's Mother Is the Devil in House": Data on the Impact of the Mother-in-Law on Stillbirth
   Mortality in Historical Krummhörn (1750-1874) and Some Thoughts on the Evolution of Postgenerative Female Life
   Eckart Voland and Jan Beise
   Chapter 13   Exploring the Variation in Intergenerational Relationships among Germans and Turkish Immigrants: An 
   Evolutionary Perspective of Behavior in a Modern Social Setting
   Akiko Nosaka and Athanasios Chasiotis
   Chapter 14   Variability of Grandmothers' Roles
   Axel Schölmerich, Birgit Leyendecker, Banu Citlak, Amy Miller, and Robin Harwood

Part III   SYNTHESIS: The Evolutionary Significance of Grandmothers
   Chapter 15   Cooperative Breeders with an Ace in the Hole
   Sarah Blaffer Hrdy

Contributors

Name Index

Subject Index

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