Menopause remains an evolutionary puzzle, as humans are unique among primates in having a long post-fertile lifespan. One model proposes that intergenerational conflict in patrilocal populations favours female reproductive cessation. This model predicts that women should experience menopause earlier in groups with an evolutionary history of patrilocality compared with matrilocal groups. Using data from the Indonesia Family Life Survey, we test this model at multiple timescales: deep historical time, comparing age at menopause in ancestrally patrilocal Chinese Indonesians with ancestrally matrilocal Austronesian Indonesians; more recent historical time, comparing age at menopause in ethnic groups with differing postmarital residence within Indonesia and finally, analysing age at menopause at an individual-level, assuming a woman facultatively adjusts her age at menopause based on her postmarital residence. We find a significant effect only at the intermediate timescale where, contrary to predictions, ethnic groups with a history of multilocal postnuptial residence (where couples choose where to live) have the slowest progression to menopause, whereas matrilocal and patrilocal ethnic groups have similar progression rates. Multilocal residence may reduce intergenerational conflicts between women, thus influencing reproductive behaviour, but our results provide no support for the female-dispersal model of intergenerational conflict as an explanation of menopause.
- intergenerational conflict,
- postmarital residence
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/kristin_snopkowski/5/