Friday 9 May 2014

LCI14 Slow Life History and paternal investment described: Tomas Cabeza de Baca


Although Professor Figueredo addressed the economic implications of slow LH through Ricardo's Law (and possibly O-Ring Theory), there is a lot more to it than that.  It starts at home, with greater parental investment in their own offspring. As he mentioned, slow life history individuals select mates and friends very similar to themselves (assortative mating). This has implications to the development of human capital in their offspring. While assortative mating can contribute to higher economic productivity (e.g., two rich people getting married and having babies), assortative mating could contribute to a stable and secure environment by producing temperamentally pleasant children and by constructing a household that reinforces such temperament/abilities. Here is a hypothetical anecdote I used in my dissertation illustrating the point:

Deep inside the maternity ward of the local hospital, two bundles of joy sleep snuggly in their cradles, unaware that their family members are observing them through the viewing glass. While both babies were born at the same time in the same hospital of the same city, both babies will experience two completely divergent paths in life.

Observing through the viewing glass is Juan’s mother, father and grandmother. His parents, both older professionals, had been previously in a long term relationship during college and married following graduation. After years of living together, the time was right to have a child. The days leading up to Juan’s birth, both mother and father prepared – last minute home nursery tweaks coupled, phone calls to grandma, and hurried cramming of cliffs notes versions of baby books – and excitedly anticipated his arrival. 

Conversely, in the waiting room, María’s family involved only an anxious woman, too young to be his grandmother. Months prior, María’s mother had to quit high school to support herself, her baby and her mother – the baby’s father nowhere to be found. 

Fast forward the story to where this dissertation began – childhood. Based on the results of studies I and II, we can take a guess how both children and their lives emerged. As a child, Juan grew up in household filled with unconditional love and attentive parents. Based on the behavior he saw between his parents, he learned to expect other people as trusting and caring individuals. While his extended family lived thirty minutes away, he also came to expect the same love and nurturance from his extended kin as he received from his parents. 

Meanwhile, across town, María is attempting to complete her reading exercises in a small, chaotic household inhabited by her grandmother, her young mother, and her mother’s new boyfriend. While she knows her mother cares and adores her, as any mother with a child does, she doesn’t seem to get her to pay attention long enough to get her guidance on her homework. More often than not, she feels as if she’s fighting her mother’s boyfriend for her time and attention. Gradually, María realizes that, not only are people undependable, she’ll have to rely on herself to get by.

By the time they get to late adulthood and “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” the varying vicissitudes of their circumstances had affected both children in vastly different ways. Juan, like her mother, waited until after college – Ph.D. program, no less – to settle down and begin a family. While he was older, his health was still exemplary and he would grow up to watch his own children raise their children. María, during her younger years, was in and out of relationships and, as a result, had many children by old boyfriends. Though both Juan and María were the same age, María’s twilight years were filled with substantial health problems, disease, and mental illness.

While they individually add to the existing empirical research on human life history, the key insight from the conceptually convergent results provided by the three studies is that they collectively highlight the real struggles for existence and many blessings individuals experience and how such experiences can shape an individual for a lifetime.

1 comment:

  1. Tommy C. De Baca12 May 2014 at 17:12

    Hello, Just wanted to comment that this post was in response to Professor's Figueredo's comment posted in the "LCI14 Figueredo: The Cognitive Ecology of Mexico" discussion.