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date: 19 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Evolutionary perspectives on infanticide suggest that women kill their offspring under specific circumstances: for instance, when children have low fitness, when women are young and unpartnered, when they have older children, and when the birth spacing is too close. Infanticide may also serve as a way to increase women’s ability to compete for access to mates, especially when the mating market has a surplus of males. Under these circumstances, to stay intrasexually competitive, unpartnered women are more likely to commit infanticide, indicating that women may sometimes kill their infants as a mechanism to be able to compete for access to better mates. This may be especially true for young women. Stepmothers may also abuse or kill stepchildren to increase access to a mate and increase intrasexual competition. This chapter addresses the circumstances under which mothers abuse, neglect, and kill their offspring, including how intrasexual competition may increase infanticide.

Keywords: infanticide, progenicide, intrasexual competition, women, mothers, evolutionary

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