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Journal Articles The American Naturalist Year : 2019

The Equivocal Mean Age of Parents in a Cohort

Abstract

The mean age at which parents give birth is an important notion in demography, ecology, and evolution, where it is used as a measure of generation time. A standard way to quantify it is to compute the mean age of the parents of all offspring produced by a cohort, and the resulting measure is thought to represent the mean age at which a typical parent produces offspring. In this note, I explain why this interpretation is problematic. I also introduce a new measure of the mean age at reproduction and show that it can be very different from the mean age of parents of offspring of a cohort. In particular, the mean age of parents of offspring of a cohort systematically overestimates the mean age at reproduction and can even be greater than the expected life span of parents.

Dates and versions

hal-02982207 , version 1 (28-10-2020)

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François Bienvenu. The Equivocal Mean Age of Parents in a Cohort. The American Naturalist, 2019, 194 (2), pp.276-284. ⟨10.1086/704110⟩. ⟨hal-02982207⟩
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