New work from graduate student Dorsa Amir and Professor Richard Bribiescas: “A longitudinal assessment of associations between adolescent environment, adversity perception, and economic status on fertility and age of menarche”

June 3, 2016
Perceptions of environmental adversity and access to economic resources in adolescence can theoretically affect the timing of life history transitions and investment in reproductive effort. Here we present evidence of correlations between variables associated with subjective extrinsic mortality, economic status, and reproductive effort in a nationally representative American population of young adults.
We used a longitudinal database that sampled American participants (N ≥ 1,579) at four points during early adolescence and early adulthood to test whether perceptions of environmental adversity and early economic status were associated with reproductive effort.
We found that subjectively high ratings of environmental danger and low access to economic resources in adolescence were significantly associated with an earlier age of menarche in girls and earlier, more robust fertility in young adulthood.
While energetics and somatic condition remain as possible sources of variation, the results of this study support the hypothesis that perceptions of adversity early in life and limited access to economic resources are associated with differences in reproductive effort and scheduling. How these factors may covary with energetics and somatic condition merits further investigation.
Click here to view the open-access article in PLOS One.