The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Evolutionary life history and the impact of a development intervention project on out-migration in rural Ethiopia


1Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Bristol, 2Population Studies Centre, Addis Ababa University

Saturday All day, Plaza Level Add to calendar

Rural development initiatives across the developing world are designed to improve community well-being and livelihood, however demographic consequences are rarely considered. Using evolutionary life history theory we investigate whether the introduction of a recent rural development initiative has been the catalyst for an increase in young adult out-migration in rural Ethiopia. Out-migration is a useful indicator of offspring investment in this population experiencing high growth rates and declining resource availability, where not all children inherit land and there are few other income-generating opportunities. Previous research has revealed that the intervention scheme, which improved maternal health and child survival through improved water supplies, has underpinned increases in family sizes (Gibson and Mace, 2006) introducing greater scarcity of resources within the household. Using multi-level logistic event history modelling techniques we demonstrate that the initiative is also directly linked to increased out-migration of young adults to urban centres over a 15 year period (n=3537 15-30 year olds). Out-migration for employment and/or education may represent a strategy of resource diversification for intensely competing offspring. We argue that it is the changes in the way parents chose to invest in their offspring which underlie variation in population levels across the world. We discuss the policy relevance of these findings and the long-term impact of migration in these communities.

Funded by The Leverhulme Trust

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