cover of book

Grandmotherhood: The Evolutionary Significance of the Second Half of Female Life
contributions by Chris Knight, Akiko Nosaka, Jan Beise, Andreas Paul, Ruth Mace, Rebecca Sear, Axel Scholmerich, Birgit Leyendecker, Banu Citlak-Kisagun, Amy Miller, Robin Harwood, Camilla Power, Kristen Hawkes, Nicholas Blurton Jones, James O'Connell, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, Natalia Gavrilova, Leonid Gavrilov, Jocelyn Scott Peccei, Cheryl Sorenson Jamison, Paul Jamison, Lauren Cornell, Donna Leonetti, Dilip Nath, Natabar Heman and Dawn Neill
edited by Eckart Voland, Anthanasios Chasiotis and Wulf Schiefenhovel
Rutgers University Press, 2014
eISBN: 978-0-8135-6693-1 | Cloth: 978-0-8135-3609-5 | Paper: 978-0-8135-7141-6
Library of Congress Classification GN479.6.G73 2005
Dewey Decimal Classification 306.8745


By the year 2030, the average life expectancy of women in industrialized countries could reach ninety—exceeding that of men by about ten years. At the present time, postmenopausal women represent more than fifteen percent of the world’s population and this figure is likely to grow.

From an evolutionary perspective, these demographic numbers pose some intriguing questions. Darwinian theory holds that a successful life is measured in terms of reproduction. How is it, then, that a woman’s lifespan can greatly exceed her childbearing and childrearing years? Is this phenomenon simply a byproduct of improved standards of living, or do older women—grandmothers in particular—play a measurable role in increasing their family members’ biological success?

Until now, these questions have not been examined in a thorough and comprehensive manner. Bringing togethertheoretical and empirical work byinternationally recognized scholars in anthropology, psychology, ethnography, and the social sciences, Grandmotherhood explores the evolutionary purpose and possibilities of female post-generative life. Students and scholars of human evolution, anthropology, and even gerontology will look to this volume as a major contribution to the current literature in evolutionary studies.

See other books on: Developmental | Fertility, Human | Gerontology | Life Stages | Social evolution
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