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Lecture Theatre 4, Regent Street

By Dr Tom Dickins, School of Psychology, University of East London

According to Life History Theory organisms ought to strive to maximize their fitness. This means they should seek the optimal allocation of resources to growth, survival and reproduction across a lifespan. In this paper I will adopt this theoretical approach and present an analysis of the National Child Development Study which provides an explanation of early fertility in a modern Western population. Paternal lack of involvement and birthweight prove to be significant risk factors for early pregnancy, and this is mediated by socioeconomic position, which should be seen as a measure of local ecology. Both the theoretical perspective used and the findings have implications for current government policies on teenage pregnancy.

Paper: Nettle, D., Coall, D.A., & Dickins, T.E. (2009.) Birthweight and paternal involvement affect the likelihood of teenage motherhood: Evidence from the British National Child Development Study. American Journal of Human Biology, DOI 10.1002/ajhb.20970