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Why-Women-Live-Longer-while-Men-Are-Fertile-Longer

Page history last edited by Alex Backer, Ph.D. 11 years, 8 months ago

Josh Eisenberg asked me: "Once an animal becomes unable to reproduce further, selective pressure to keep it alive falls off, and degenerative disease piles on the genetic program of aging. Then why do men reproduce longer than women, whereas women live longer than men?"

 

The reason that men reproduce longer whilst women live longer is, paradoxically, the same: women are more important to the well-being of their children. A child whose mother dies in his/her childhood has historically had a significantly reduced survival probability. Thus, women who live well beyond their reproductive age have a selective advantage over those who do not, and women who stop reproducing before they die and devote the additional freed resources to their existing children have a selective advantage over women who waste valuable resources on children that have a reduced survival probability rather than on their older progeny. 

 

Men, in contrast, have every incentive to reproduce through their death (as long as the mother of their kids is young enough to raise them), and have less of an evolutionary advantage in living beyond the age in which women find them fit enough to mate with.

 

 

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