Evolutionary changes played a crucial role in industrialization, study finds

Evolutionary changes played a crucial role in industrialization, study finds
Credit: Brown University

A recent study of centuries-old French-Canadian genealogical data by a Brown University economist revealed evidence that supports his own 17-year-old theory that natural selection played a pivotal role in the emergence of economic growth and industrialization.

Oded Galor, a professor of economics at Brown, and Marc Klemp, a visiting scholar in Brown's Population Studies and Training Center, together studied genealogical records from Quebec's Saint Lawrence Valley dating from 1608 to 1800. Focusing on changes in families' fecundity, or predisposition toward fertility, they found that in those centuries, those who were able to conceive a child shortly after marriage—a measure of fecundity—had more surviving children.

However, the study found, those who conceived months after marriage—a measure of more moderate fecundity—had fewer children but a larger number of surviving descendants in future generations, giving them the evolutionary upper hand. The researchers also noted that the population they studied became increasingly less predisposed toward high fertility over the course of those two centuries.

Galor says the study results, published on Monday, April 1, in Nature Ecology & Evolution, lend credence to what he and a colleague had surmised in a highly influential 2002 paper—that during the pre-industrial era, the of those who were genetically predisposed toward having fewer children was instrumental in spurring industrialization and sustained .

"The data suggest that over time, nature selected individuals who had a predisposition to invest in their children," Galor said. "This contributed to the transition from an epoch of stagnation to an era of sustained economic growth."

Before the Industrial Revolution began in North America in the mid-1700s, Galor explained, humanity lived in what he calls the Malthusian epoch. For thousands of years, humanity had a predisposition toward high fertility. Galor and Kemp's study shows that the pattern began to change in the pre-industrial era, when those with more moderate levels of fecundity began to gain an evolutionary advantage. By the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, their advantage had grown so large that the high-fecundity population became the minority, while those with moderate fecundity started to dominate the population.

Galor argues that this change created ideal conditions for economic growth during the Industrial Revolution. As evolution began to favor families who were less fertile and thus had fewer children, those families had more resources to devote to each child. Children who came from these families became more educated—an important trait, he says, in an era that demanded greater cognitive ability and creativity for technological advances. The population gradually became more educated, creating a "positive feedback loop" between education and technology and generating sustained economic growth.

"The fundamental building block in our hypothesis, that natural selection was critical for the emergence of economic growth, is now supported by the evidence," Galor said of the 2002 paper. "We show that although higher fecundity maximized the number of surviving children someone would have after one generation, moderate fecundity—and therefore greater predisposition toward child quality—generated higher reproductive success in the long run and was selected by nature in the pre-industrial period."

To reach their conclusion, the researchers chose to focus on an extensive genealogical record of nearly half a million individuals in a particular area of Quebec, where nearly every citizen's birth, marriage and death was recorded in Catholic parish registers between 1608 and 1800. Given the time period and the region's religious uniformity, the researchers could safely assume that for most, marriage signaled a deliberate attempt to conceive . They ensured their findings weren't driven by stray exceptions in the dataset—for example, those who married much later in life or whose genetics predisposed them to infertility.

The results of the analysis—that those who successfully conceived a few months after marriage, rather than immediately afterward, had more surviving descendants in the long term—mirror preliminary results from another analysis Galor and Klemp conducted using records in Britain between 1541 and 1871. Galor says this suggests the phenomenon may have extended beyond Quebec and Britain, as he posited in 2002.

"My hope," he said, "is that this study will spur further interest in exploring the role of evolutionary processes in economic development."


Explore further

New research demands rethink on Darwin's theory of 'fecundity selection'

More information: Oded Galor et al, Human genealogy reveals a selective advantage to moderate fecundity, Nature Ecology & Evolution (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-019-0846-x
Journal information: Nature Ecology & Evolution

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Apr 05, 2019
Natural selection? Humans are a domesticated species, artificially selected for our affinity for tribal living.

'Experts' who posit otherwise when the truth is so obvious, are trying to obscure the truth about the nature of the domesticated tropical human animal.

"For thousands of years, humanity had a predisposition toward high fertility"

-and no, a womans predisposition is to limit the number of children she wishes to bear. The surviving RELIGIONS are responsible for maximizing fertility with the intent of outgrowing and overrunning the competition. This is how they survived.

Our religions only exiist because they were best at forcing women to reproduce until it kills them. Certainly, this sort of husbandry very quickly selects for women who are more fertile.

But there is nothing nartural about it.

Apr 05, 2019
well otto, still waiting for you to educate us which Primatomorpha do not live in tribal societies.

You seem to confuse
pharaoh-worshiping slavery with some vague concept of a tribal society. Any in particular?

& when did females ever have a choice? Get to make the decisions controlling her life? Was permitted ownership of her fecundity?

Oh, I'm sure you can find am example pr two? From records controlled by males. Recorded as remarkable examples of few & far between of outlier status of a very select number pf females.

& I use the word "female" deliberately. As all too many of the victims of forced pregnancies have been children.

Apr 06, 2019
rrwillsj
Comment posted by a person you have ignored ...

https://youtu.be/2BVbyCZXc5s

-the only response you're ever gonna get troll.


Apr 06, 2019
Among other things, the fraud of saying that cjanges in statistics of existing genotypes is "evolution". "evolution" is one thing, speciation. Even Darwin admitted that in entitling his book "The Origin of Species". "Evolutiuonists" have changed the "definition" apparently because they can't provide any examples of mutation taking hold, proliferating and forming a new species. A quality many assign to "evolution" is that it cannot reverse, or else it would have rather than, as is claimed, produce new species. But prevalence of existing genotypes is reversible.
It should be mentioned, too, that the article is promoting a violation of a generally accepted tenet of "evolution" that high numbers of progeny ensure continuation of a group.
And, ask, has the ability to have children immediately after marriage been removed?

Apr 06, 2019
It should be mentioned, too, that the article is promoting a violation of a generally accepted tenet of "evolution" that high numbers of progeny ensure continuation of a group
-especially when a certain group that has expended many gens developing a natural affinity for a local food or climate, is overrun and wiped out by a group that has expended only a few gens developing a new weapon and the ability to use it effectively in combat.

Technological development trumps genetic mutation any day. Just like an atlatl trumps a sabertooth.

Apr 07, 2019
An article published on April 1st (even in Nature Journal Ecology & Evolution) deserves a natural and healthy grain of skepticism before taking it at face value, don't you think?

Apr 08, 2019
Natural selection? Humans are a domesticated species, artificially selected for our affinity for tribal living.


Artificial selection is considered a subset of natural selection.

a womans predisposition is to limit the number of children she wishes to bear.


That is - if it is a trait - perhaps even more a cultural trait. But among known traits animals have a sexual urge, caused by selection.

Apr 08, 2019
It should be mentioned, too, that the article is promoting a violation of a generally accepted tenet of "evolution" that high numbers of progeny ensure continuation of a group
-especially when a certain group that has expended many gens developing a natural affinity for a local food or climate, is overrun and wiped out by a group that has expended only a few gens developing a new weapon and the ability to use it effectively in combat.


You are both speculating in something arguable at best. Group selection has never been observed, selfish gene selection has been seen many times.

Apr 15, 2019
You are both speculating in something arguable at best. Group selection has never been observed, selfish gene selection has been seen many times
No, its rarely acknowledged but our history abounds with examples.
Artificial selection is considered a subset of natural selection
Of course it is... by professional obscurantists who are only concerned with our continued domestication.

Humans have been bred with the ability to do all sorts of tricks. Especially school age humans.
cont>

Apr 15, 2019
"23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. [How much more transparent could they be??]

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. [youre getting very sleepy...]

3 He restoreth my soul [which is so easy to forget without being constantly reminded of the need for one] he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. [the tribal god and the good of the tribe]

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me: thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. [rod = punishment; staff = direction]

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies [a very unnatural state of things] thou anointest my head with oil [useless rites and ceremonies to confuse and deceive] my cup runneth over [another empty promise]

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. [empty promises #3 and #4]

Apr 15, 2019
That is - if it is a trait - perhaps even more a cultural trait. But among known traits animals have a sexual urge, caused by selection
Theres that annoying trait of yours to make stuff up again.

Pregnancy is more difficult for women than for most any other animal, and the danger only increases as she ages. Women know this intrinsically. Additionally, the more children she has, the harder it is to provide for them. Women have devised all sorts of alternatives through the ages for dissuading men from forcing themselves on them.

It is religion-driven cultures that force women to conceive against their will. The leading cause of death for women in many parts of the world is childbirth.

I refer you to a book called 'More'
https://www.npr.o...men-want

-The author argues that the best way to reduce growth is to emancipate women, to give them the freedom to determine when and if they bear children, and with whom.

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