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      Reproductive Investment and Health Costs in Roma Women

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          Abstract

          In this paper, we examine whether variation in reproductive investment affects the health of Roma women using a dataset collected through original anthropological fieldwork among Roma women in Serbia. Data were collected in 2014–2016 in several Roma semi-urban settlements in central Serbia. The sample consisted of 468 Roma women, averaging 44 years of age. We collected demographic data (age, school levels, socioeconomic status), risk behaviors (smoking and alcohol consumption), marital status, and reproductive history variables (the timing of reproduction, the intensity of reproduction, reproductive effort and investment after birth), in addition to self-reported health, height, and weight. Data analyses showed that somatic, short-term costs of reproduction were revealed in this population, while evolutionary, long-term costs were unobservable—contrariwise, Roma women in poor health contributed more to the gene pool of the next generation than their healthy counterparts. Our findings appear to be consistent with simple trade-off models that suggest inverse relationships between reproductive effort and health. Thus, personal sacrifice—poor health as an outcome—seems crucial for greater reproductive success.

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          Most cited references 58

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          Evolution of ageing

           T Kirkwood (1977)
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            Human longevity at the cost of reproductive success.

            The disposable soma theory on the evolution of ageing states that longevity requires investments in somatic maintenance that reduce the resources available for reproduction. Experiments in Drosophila melanogaster indicate that trade-offs of this kind exist in non-human species. We have determined the interrelationship between longevity and reproductive success in Homo sapiens using a historical data set from the British aristocracy. The number of progeny was small when women died at an early age, increased with the age of death, reaching a plateau through the sixth, seventh and eighth decades of life, but decreased again in women who died at an age of 80 years or over. Age at first childbirth was lowest in women who died early and highest for women who died at the oldest ages. When account was taken only of women who had reached menopause, who were aged 60 years and over, female longevity was negatively correlated with number of progeny and positively correlated with age at first childbirth. The findings show that human life histories involve a trade-off between longevity and reproduction.
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              Successful Aging: A Life-Course Perspective on Women's Multiple Roles and Health

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Academic Editor
                Journal
                Int J Environ Res Public Health
                Int J Environ Res Public Health
                ijerph
                International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
                MDPI
                1661-7827
                1660-4601
                03 November 2017
                November 2017
                : 14
                : 11
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Institute of Ethnography, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
                [2 ]Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN 46202-2872, USA; coek@ 123456iu.edu
                Author notes
                Article
                ijerph-14-01337
                10.3390/ijerph14111337
                5707976
                29099752
                © 2017 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

                Categories
                Article

                Public health

                roma, health, reproductive investment, women

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