Answering the Unanswered Once More

August 21, 2008

My previous theory to answer evolutionary psychology’s unanswered question No. 8 has now been supplemented with a new aspect.

During the earliest hours of today I suffered from the usual insomnia, which I have learnt to attribute to perhaps a dozen reasons, ranging from the never-ending spawning of new ideas to the anxienty over approaching events. Neither the warm milk nor the bananas nor the chamomille- nor the lavendar tea seemed to be able to silence my thoughts to a sufficient extent. To relieve myself of the boredom bound to follow a failure of falling asleep, I picked up Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters and finished its last three chapters – which I really should have finished earlier but always found myself as being too busy to actually do. I figured it was best to finish reading my only aviliable source of evolutionary psychology before I jump to conclusions, flawed because I have not accumulated enough information.

In the last chapter of the book I learnt that my theory of why parents in industrialised societies have few children was flawed – it is not because of a lack of resources. I still believe there is some truth to my theory, but it did not explain everything. It was not my most successful meme, in other words. However, as I lay in bed, still unable to fall asleep, I contemplated the matter as I find questions without answers to be highly frustrating. Eventually, I came up with a new, supplementary, theory. (It is truly remarkable how clear one’s mind may be when the hours past midnight are spent in the pursuit of activities more productive than sleep!)

My new theory is as follows:

Although parents have to make sure that their offspring is more qualitative than quantitative, because the resources – money and time – are limited, it does not fully explain why industrialised parents have fewer children than their less industrialised counterparts.  This is because there is another aspect of the equation to take into consideration: the fact that industrialised societies are the most sophisticated, meaning that the life expectancy – and subsequent potential reproductive success – of a child born into one is greater than that of children in less industrialised societies.

Parents of less sophisticated societies need to have more children because the medical resources, for example, are limited and scarce; meaning they are more likely to lose a few children to accidents, diseases and starvation/dehydration. In industrialised societies this is not the case, or at least, children are less at risk as they are more likely to be saved because of the availiable technological advances.

Thus, parents in socities of greater sophistication need not waste their availiable economical resources on producing many children because their reproductive success is sufficiently secured with only two children – or perhaps even one. Subsequently, they can spend their availiable resources more wisely, raising highly qualitative instead of quantitative children.

And that is why parents of industrial socities have few children. – At least according to my latest theory.

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One Response to “Answering the Unanswered Once More”


  1. […] I supplemented this theory with considerations unthought of in th post above in a more recent blog entry. Posted by blavinge Filed in Theories Tagged: Biology, Evolutionary Psychology, Genes, […]


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