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date: 12 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses, from an evolutionary standpoint, crucial factors influencing human reproduction. It emphasizes the importance of social status and homogamy on the level of the individual and raises the question how genetics and also epigenetics may contribute to explain human mate choice and fertility patterns. The chapter discusses the differential association of status with fertility for men and women, evolutionary reasons for the prevalence of homogamy along cultural traits and considers, on the level of genetics, the interplay of inbreeding and outbreeding. The role of mutations due to paternal age for human mate choice is debated. Finally, the chapter discusses the effects of early life conditions on later reproduction and also the role of epigenetics as a potential underlying mechanism. It is concluded that an evolutionary perspective helps explain reproductive patterns in modern humans and may thus make a valuable contribution in the assessment of urgent contemporary problems.

Keywords: evolution, fertility, social status, homogamy, genetics, epigenetics

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