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Cultural Evolution and Gender Roles: A Re-Affirmation of J.K. Brown's Note

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In 1970, Brown offered "A note on the division of labor." Her observation was that - across cultures - if a task interfered with child-rearing, then that task would be given to men. If a task did not interfere with child-rearing, then that task could be included in the set of chores assigned to women. A reasonable extension of her note would be that if a group's women, as a class, were performing tasks incompatible with child-rearing, then the fertility rates of that group's women would be decreased. A cross-cultural survey of current demographic indices re-affirms Brown's note. Data are presented which indicate that, as more of a group's women perform tasks which are incompatible with child-rearing, the lower the fertility rate of that group's women. As a corollary, there are systematic cultural evolutionary pressures for groups with higher fertility rates to replace or displace groups with lower fertility rates.


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