Dataset Information


Sibling Competition & Growth Tradeoffs. Biological vs. Statistical Significance.

ABSTRACT: Early childhood growth has many downstream effects on future health and reproduction and is an important measure of offspring quality. While a tradeoff between family size and child growth outcomes is theoretically predicted in high-fertility societies, empirical evidence is mixed. This is often attributed to phenotypic variation in parental condition. However, inconsistent study results may also arise because family size confounds the potentially differential effects that older and younger siblings can have on young children's growth. Additionally, inconsistent results might reflect that the biological significance associated with different growth trajectories is poorly understood. This paper addresses these concerns by tracking children's monthly gains in height and weight from weaning to age five in a high fertility Maya community. We predict that: 1) as an aggregate measure family size will not have a major impact on child growth during the post weaning period; 2) competition from young siblings will negatively impact child growth during the post weaning period; 3) however because of their economic value, older siblings will have a negligible effect on young children's growth. Accounting for parental condition, we use linear mixed models to evaluate the effects that family size, younger and older siblings have on children's growth. Congruent with our expectations, it is younger siblings who have the most detrimental effect on children's growth. While we find statistical evidence of a quantity/quality tradeoff effect, the biological significance of these results is negligible in early childhood. Our findings help to resolve why quantity/quality studies have had inconsistent results by showing that sibling competition varies with sibling age composition, not just family size, and that biological significance is distinct from statistical significance.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4777386 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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