24 August 2013

When Teen Pregnancies are Rational

Listening to a program on evolutionary psychology, I heard this fascinating bit about how sexual education might not make much difference to the rate of teenage pregnancies in certain communities for at least two reasons.

One, life expectancy - even in animals other than humans - is the simplest predictor of when a female will reproduce. If life expectancy in your neighborhood is 62, you are more likely to have a child in your late teens than early thirties, the opposite of what you might expect if life expectancy in your neighborhood is 92.

Two, if you are anticipating help from your mother in raising a child rather than your sexual partner, you had better hurry up and have the child while your mother is still young and able.

There is a difference between irrational behavior and behavior for which reasons are not quite as obvious. As it turns out, education doesn't overcome what people know.

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