The Grandmother Hypothesis

According to the "grandmother hypothesis," humans have grandmas, nanas and bubbies to thank for their longer lifespans. In this episode, Cristen and Caroline reveal the compelling science and evolution behind these important maternal figures.

Episode sources:

"Evolution's Secret Weapon: Grandma" by Tara Parker-Pope. The New York Times. Oct. 05, 2007.

"In China, It's the Grandparents Who 'Lean In'" by Kelly Yang. The Atlantic. Sept. 30, 2013.

"Insights and Spending Habits of Modern Grandparents: A Look at African-American and Hispanic/Latino Grandparents" by Jane C. Bittner. AARP. August 2012.

"More U.S. Children Raised by Grandparents" by Paola Scommegna. Popular Reference Bureau.

"Studying Role of Grandparents" by Marie Cimons. National Science Foundation. U.S. News. Nov. 29, 2010.

"The Evolutionary Importance of Grandmothers" by Lindsay Abrams. The Atlantic. Oct. 24, 2012.

"Whales and humans linked by 'helpful grandmothers'" by Victoria Gill. BBC News. July 02, 2010.

"Why Do Grandmothers Exist?" by Judith Shulevitz. The New Republic. Jan. 29, 2013.

Academic insights:

"Adolescents' perspectives on relationships with grandparents: The contribution of adolescent, grandparents, and parent-grandparent relationship values" by Shalhevet Attar-Schwartz, Jo-Pei Tan and Ann Buchanan. Children and Youth Services Review. September 2009.

"Diversity in Old Age: The Elderly in Changing Economic and Family Contexts" by Judith A. Seltzer and Jenjira J. Yahirun. Russell Sage Foundation. Nov. 06, 2013.

"Hadza Women's Time Allocation, Offspring Provisioning, and the Evolution of Long Postmenopausal Life Spans" by K. Hawkes; J.F. O'Connell; and N.G. Blurton Jones. Current Anthropology. August - October 1997.

"Intergenerational Ties in Context: Grandparents Caring for Grandchildren in China" by Feinian Chen, Guangya Liu and Christine A. Mair. Social Forces. December 2011.

"Relationship with Grandparents and the Emotional Well-Being of Late Adolescent and Young Adult Grandchildren" by Sarah A. Ruiz and Merril Silverstein. Journal of Social Issues. November 28, 2007.

"The Rich Ethnic and Racial Diversity of Grandparent Caregivers: Portraits in Resilience" by Esme Fuller-Thomson. Second Symposium on Grandparents Raising Grandchildren. March 10, 2009.

Topics in this Podcast: Evolution, menopause, families, caregiving