Life history theory and evolutionary anthropology


  • Kim Hill

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    • Kim Hill is associate professor of anthropology at the University of New Mexico. His research interests include economic decision making, food sharing, allocation of time to labor, parental investment, mating strategies, and the application of life-history theory to the study of demography in small scale societies. He has conducted field work with hunter-gatherers in Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela.


Life-history theory has been developed in biology to explain the variation in timing of fertility, growth, developmental rates, and death of living organisms, as well as events directly tied to these parameters. The theory is useful in explaining variations in age-specific human fertility and mortality patterns, as well as understanding how the human life course evolved to patterns so divergent from those that characterize our close primate relatives. Surprisingly, this same theory can also be used to explain why people often ignore the long-term consequences of behaviors that produce short-term gain.