Life-history theory has been developed in biology to explain the variation in timing of fertility, growth, developmental rates, and death of living organisms, as well as events directly tied to these parameters. The theory is useful in explaining variations in age-specific human fertility and mortality patterns, as well as understanding how the human life course evolved to patterns so divergent from those that characterize our close primate relatives. Surprisingly, this same theory can also be used to explain why people often ignore the long-term consequences of behaviors that produce short-term gain.
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