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Quality-quantity trade-off of human offspring under adverse environmental conditions

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Thomas Kirkwood


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A central paradigm in life-history theory is the trade-off between offspring number and quality. Several studies have investigated this trade-off in humans, but data are inconclusive, perhaps because prosperous socio-cultural factors mask the trade-off. Therefore, we studied 2461 offspring groups in an area under adverse conditions in northern Ghana with high fertility and mortality rates. In a linear mixed model controlling for differences in age and tribe of the mother and socioeconomic status, each additional child in the offspring group resulted in a 2.3% (95% CI 1.9-2.6%, P

Publication metadata

Author(s): Meij JJ, Bodegom D, Ziem JB, Amankwa J, Polderman AM, Kirkwood TBL, De Craen AJM, Zwaan BJ, Westendorp RGJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Evolutionary Biology

Year: 2009

Volume: 22

Issue: 5

Pages: 1014-1023

ISSN (print): 1010-061X

ISSN (electronic): 1420-9101

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2009.01713.x


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Funder referenceFunder name
Stichting Dioraphte
Board of the Leiden University Medical Center
FP6 036894EU
NWO 051-14-050Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
WOTRO 93-467Netherlands Foundation for the advancements of Tropical Research