Influences on communication about reproduction: the cultural evolution of low fertility

Abstract
The cultural norms of traditional societies encourage behavior that is consistent with maximizing reproductive success but those of modern post-demographic transition societies do not. Newson et al (2005) proposed that this might be because interaction between kin is relatively less frequent in modern social networks. Assuming that people’s evaluations of reproductive decisions are influenced by a desire to increase their inclusive fitness, they will be inclined to prefer their kin to make fitness-enhancing choices. Such a preference will encourage the emergence of pronatal cultural norms if social networks are dense with kin. Less pronatal norms will emerge if contact between kin makes up a small proportion of social interactions. This article reports evidence based on role-play studies that supports the assumption of the kin influence hypothesis that evaluations of reproductive decisions are influenced by a desire to increase inclusive fitness. It also presents a cultural evolutionary model demonstrating the long-term effect of declining kin interaction if people are more likely to encourage fitness-enhancing choices when interacting with their kin than with nonrelatives. D 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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