health and successful aging (e.g., National Research Council, 2001) and provide precedents for longitudinal studies of successful marital bonding, family planning, and parenting enriched by coordinated endocrinological and questionnaire-based measurements of stress and resilience.

In the area of behavioral genetics, a need has been described for new starts, moving beyond heritabilities and correlations and emphasizing (to borrow Michael Rutter’s phrase) “discriminating and sensitive measures of the environment.” Such new approaches might be able to exploit the individual-level time-series measurements of environmental conditions and exposures that are becoming practical. Both evolutionary theory and endocrinological investigations presented, for example, in Chapters 8 and 9 suggest that traits implicated in family formation outcomes, like risk-taking, may be more amenable to genetic analysis than fertility outcomes themselves. Separating genetic influences from self-selection may be aided by accumulating longitudinal data sets like the Add Health Study.

Molecular genetics has its own impetus and will take its own directions. Biodemographers are not for the most part qualified to suggest promising experiments, but they need to be poised to assimilate new molecular discoveries like those presented in Chapter 4. Such discoveries change the conceptual framework for thinking about subconscious sources of decisions and reactions. The suggestions about the kinds of reward circuitry involved in pair-bonding in one other species as described in Chapter 4 might well suggest novel survey designs for demographic fertility surveys. In the wake of advances in endocrinology, as discussed in Chapter 5, studies seem timely to relate psychosocial stress to hormone secretion and to reexamine links between nutrition and fertility.

The ongoing studies of the demography and social interactions of other primates in the wild, illustrated in Chapter 6, are likely to be critically fruitful sources of new ideas and perspectives for biodemography throughout the foreseeable future. In this area, the interests of biologists and the interests of demographers are already well coordinated and mutually reinforcing.

A rich variety of topics from evolutionary anthropology treated in Chapters 7, 8, 9, and 10 holding out promise for future research have been discussed in earlier sections. In the near term, comparative studies of the dynamics of grandparental provisioning and intergenerational support for offspring within an evolutionary framework appear to be at the top of the agenda, bringing together economists, sociologists, mathematical demographers, and anthropologists on common ground.

One gap in coverage in this volume needs to be borne in mind. Despite strenuous efforts, the organizing panel was not successful in recruiting a contribution dealing directly with brain research. Some topics from neuroscience are treated in Chapters 4 and 5, and their relevance is discussed in



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement