The debate about the relationship between fertility and subsistence is an old one, and an
example of a classic anthropological investigation into the relationship between food
production, behaviour and demography. Anthropological and archaeological theory present
hunter-gatherer fertility as ‘relatively low’ compared to other subsistence types. However,
the evidence (based on cross-cultural averages) is mixed, suggesting a wide range of
heterogeneity in fertility regardless of subsistence type. Despite inconsistent results the
literature on the demography of small-scale societies still tends to assume hunter-gatherers
have lower fertility compared to other populations. This may well be true, but we lack the
evidence to support this statement due to theoretical and methodological shortcomings in
previous research. This proposed research project seeks to re-open this classic question by
investigating the relationship between fertility and subsistence at the individual level from a
wide range of small-scale populations to overcome previous limitations.
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