Socioeconomic Aspects of Human Behavioral Ecology

ISBN: 978-0-76231-082-1, eISBN: 978-1-84950-255-9

ISSN: 0190-1281

Publication date: 30 December 2004


We examine the relationship between height and reproductive success (RS) in women from a natural fertility population in the Gambia. We observe the predicted trade-off between adult height and age at first birth: women who are tall in adulthood have later first births than short women do. However, tall women have reproductive advantages during the rest of their reproductive careers, primarily in the lower mortality rates of their children. This ultimately leads to higher fitness for taller women, despite their delayed start to reproduction. The higher RS of tall women appears to be entirely due to the physiological benefits of being tall. There is no evidence that female height is related to patterns of marriage or divorce in this population.


Sear, R., Allal, N. and Mace, R. (2004), "HEIGHT, MARRIAGE AND REPRODUCTIVE SUCCESS IN GAMBIAN WOMEN", Alvard, M. (Ed.) Socioeconomic Aspects of Human Behavioral Ecology (Research in Economic Anthropology, Vol. 23), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 203-224. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0190-1281(04)23008-6

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