Socioecology shapes child and adolescent time allocation in twelve hunter-gatherer and mixed-subsistence forager societies

Nature Scientific Reports Vol/Iss. 12(8054) Nature Published In Pages: 1-16
By Lew-Levy, Sheina, Reckin, Rachel, Kissler, Stephen M., Pretelli, Illaria, Boyette, Adam H., Crittenden, Alyssa N., Hagen, Renee V., Haas, Randall, Kramer, Karen L., Koster, Jeremy M., O'Brien, Matthew J., Sonoda, Koji, Surovell, Todd A., Stieglitz, Jonathan, Tucker, Bram, Lavi, Noa, Ellis-Davies, Kate, Davis, Helen E.


This paper seeks to understand the roles played by children and adolescents in hunter-gatherer societies in relation to their social and ecological context. The authors set out to investigate how environmental factors, ecological risk, and the energetic contributions of adult men and women to food production may have influenced children/adolescent allocation of time to child care, domestic work, food production, and play. In order to carry out this study, the authors logged the behaviors of 690 children and adolescents from twelve hunter-gatherer and mixed-subsistence societies (Agta, Aka, Baka, BaYaka, Dukha, Hadza, Matsi-genka, Maya, Mayangna, Mikea, Pume, and Tsimane), totaling 85,597 unique observations. The study found that harsh environmental factors were not associated with child/adolescent time allocation, but that local ecological risk such as dangerous animals and lack of water availability predicted decreased time allocation to child care and domestic work, and that increased adult female participation in food production was associated with less time invested in child care among boys. It also found that all gendered differences in time allocation among children were stronger when men made greater contributions to food production than women. The authors interpret these results to signify that parents may play a role in preparing their children for environmental and ecological difficulty in order to help them develop skills that will help them become useful community members as adults.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
Researchers' ownResearchers' ownResearchers observed the activity of children firsthand. Researchers also recorded water quality and quantity and the food production behavior of adults.
PanTHERIAOther researchersUsed to code "Dangerous Mammal Density"
Net Primary Production dataset version-55 from the Numerical Terradynamic Simulation Group at the University of MontanaOther researchersUsed to code "Net Primary Production"
University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit gridded Time Series datasetOther researchersUsed to code "Annual Precipitation" and "Annual Mean Temperature"

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