1932

Abstract

Unlike most mammals, human fathers cooperate with mothers to care for young to an extraordinary degree. Human paternal care likely evolved alongside our unique life history strategy of raising slow-developing, energetically costly children, often in rapid succession. Adaptive frameworks generally assume that paternal provisioning played a critical role in this pattern's emergence. We draw on nonhuman primate data to propose that nonprovisioning forms of low-cost hominin male care were potentially foundational and ratcheted up through evolutionary time, helping facilitate social contexts for later subsistence specialization and sharing. We then argue for expanding the breadth of anthropological research on paternal effects in families, particularly in three domains: direct care and teaching;social capital cultivation; and reduction of family conflict. Anthropologists can greatly contribute to conversations about the determinants of children's development across contexts, but we need to ask more expansive questions about the pathways through which caregivers (including fathers) affect child outcomes.

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2020-10-21
2024-05-25
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