Original Research Article
Selection in utero: A biological response to mass layoffs
Article first published online: 13 NOV 2009
Copyright © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
American Journal of Human Biology
Volume 22, Issue 3, pages 396–400, May/June 2010
How to Cite
Catalano, R., Zilko, C. E. M., Saxton, K. B. and Bruckner, T. (2010), Selection in utero: A biological response to mass layoffs. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 22: 396–400. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.21011
- Issue published online: 7 APR 2010
- Article first published online: 13 NOV 2009
- Manuscript Accepted: 8 OCT 2009
- Manuscript Revised: 26 AUG 2009
- Manuscript Received: 25 MAR 2009
- Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Program
Most research describing the biological response to unemployment appears appropriately motivated by clinical or public health concerns and focuses on death, disease, and medical care. We argue that expanding the work to include other outcomes could contribute to basic science. As an example, we use the response to mass layoffs to discriminate between two explanations of low ratios of male to female live births in stressed populations. One explanation asserts that ambient stressors reduce the ratio of males to females conceived. The other argues that the maternal stress response selects against males in utero. We show that selection in utero better explains the observed data. We conclude that human adaptation to the economic environment deserves scrutiny from a wider array of scientists than it now receives. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.