Grandparental investment and reproductive decisions in the longitudinal 1970 British cohort study

David Waynforth

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50 Citations (Scopus)


There has been a recent increase in interest among evolutionary researchers in the hypothesis that humans evolved as cooperative breeders, using extended family support to help decrease offspring mortality and increase the number of children that can be successfully reared. In this study, data drawn from the 1970 longitudinal British cohort study were analysed to determine whether extended family support encourages fertility in contemporary Britain. The results showed that at age 30, reported frequency that participants saw their own parents (but not in-laws) and the closeness of the bond between the participant and their own parents were associated with an increased likelihood of having a child between ages 30 and 34. Financial help and reported grandparental childcare were not significantly positively associated with births from age 30 to 34. Men's income was positively associated with likelihood of birth, whereas women's income increased likelihood of birth only for working women with at least one child. While it was predicted that grandparental financial and childcare help would increase the likelihood of reproduction by lowering the cost to the parent of having a child, it appears that the mere physical presence of supportive parents rather than their financial or childcare help encouraged reproduction in the 1970 British birth cohort sample.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1155-1160
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1731
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012

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