Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Data: The most athletic women have the fewest kids

Now that I've got a little more confidence that self-rated athletic ability has some validity to it (I also observed that it drops markedly with age), I looked to see if athletic people have fewer children. Here's the graph for women ages 40-55 (General Social Survey, N = 401):

American women who say that "athletic" describes them very well average only 1.58 children, while all the less athletic groups have roughly 2.1 kids.

What about men?  Here's a graph for them (N = 317):

With men, we see a U-shaped relationship: the very athletic group has a mean of 2.39 offspring, and the least athletic men average 2.31 kids.  The average athletic group has the smallest families: a mean of only 1.66 kids.

We could interpret this pattern to mean that highly athletic men are more attractive to women and consequently have more mating opportunities, while the least athletic tend to be low testosterone men who are highly committed to family, which is an alternative path to a large family.

The overall results suggest a mixed trend.  What sticks out to me is that athleticism among women shows that same dysgenic trend with see with traits like IQ, education, and health: the top scoring females consistently have the fewest kids.

And let's not forget the study I linked to that found that athletic performance is highly influenced by genes (heritability = .66).

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