Complexity of the relationship between life expectancy and overlap of lifespans

Julia A. Barthold Jones*, Adam Lenart, Annette Baudisch

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Longevity has long been recognised as a key facilitator of reciprocal altruism because repeated cooperation of partners hinges on mutual survival. Although demographic tools can be used to quantify mutual survival and expected overlapping lifespans, studies on the evolutionary theory of cooperation take only limited advantage of demography. Overlap of lifespans depends on variation in survival across ages and can be high or low independently of high or low life expectancies. Here we develop formal demographic measures to study the complex relationships between shared life expectancy of two birth cohort peers, the proportion of their lives that they can expect to overlap, and longevity. We simulate age-specific mortality schedules using a Siler model to reveal how infant and senescent mortality, along with age-independent mortality, affect the relationship between the proportion of life shared and life expectancy. We find that while the proportion of life shared can vary vastly for similar life expectancies, almost all changes to mortality schedules that result in higher life expectancies also result in higher proportions of life shared. A distinct exception occurs if life expectancy increases due to lowering the rate of senescence. In this case the proportion of life shared decreases. Our work shows that almost all selective pressures that result in higher life expectancies also result in a larger proportion of life shared. Therefore, selective forces that extend life also improve the chances that a cooperative system would be stable in terms of reciprocal interactions. Since reciprocal interactions may also reduce mortality and result in a feedback loop with the evolution of longevity, our measures and findings can be used for future cross-species comparisons that aim to disentangle predecessor and successor in the evolution of longevity and cooperation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0197985
JournalPLOS ONE
Volume13
Issue number7
ISSN1932-6203
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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Hinges
Life Expectancy
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Altruism
demographic statistics
altruism
peers
demography
cooperatives

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@article{4e15b5f2307d4faaa076c68ffda215af,
title = "Complexity of the relationship between life expectancy and overlap of lifespans",
abstract = "Longevity has long been recognised as a key facilitator of reciprocal altruism because repeated cooperation of partners hinges on mutual survival. Although demographic tools can be used to quantify mutual survival and expected overlapping lifespans, studies on the evolutionary theory of cooperation take only limited advantage of demography. Overlap of lifespans depends on variation in survival across ages and can be high or low independently of high or low life expectancies. Here we develop formal demographic measures to study the complex relationships between shared life expectancy of two birth cohort peers, the proportion of their lives that they can expect to overlap, and longevity. We simulate age-specific mortality schedules using a Siler model to reveal how infant and senescent mortality, along with age-independent mortality, affect the relationship between the proportion of life shared and life expectancy. We find that while the proportion of life shared can vary vastly for similar life expectancies, almost all changes to mortality schedules that result in higher life expectancies also result in higher proportions of life shared. A distinct exception occurs if life expectancy increases due to lowering the rate of senescence. In this case the proportion of life shared decreases. Our work shows that almost all selective pressures that result in higher life expectancies also result in a larger proportion of life shared. Therefore, selective forces that extend life also improve the chances that a cooperative system would be stable in terms of reciprocal interactions. Since reciprocal interactions may also reduce mortality and result in a feedback loop with the evolution of longevity, our measures and findings can be used for future cross-species comparisons that aim to disentangle predecessor and successor in the evolution of longevity and cooperation.",
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Complexity of the relationship between life expectancy and overlap of lifespans. / Barthold Jones, Julia A.; Lenart, Adam; Baudisch, Annette.

In: PLOS ONE, Vol. 13, No. 7, e0197985, 2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

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AB - Longevity has long been recognised as a key facilitator of reciprocal altruism because repeated cooperation of partners hinges on mutual survival. Although demographic tools can be used to quantify mutual survival and expected overlapping lifespans, studies on the evolutionary theory of cooperation take only limited advantage of demography. Overlap of lifespans depends on variation in survival across ages and can be high or low independently of high or low life expectancies. Here we develop formal demographic measures to study the complex relationships between shared life expectancy of two birth cohort peers, the proportion of their lives that they can expect to overlap, and longevity. We simulate age-specific mortality schedules using a Siler model to reveal how infant and senescent mortality, along with age-independent mortality, affect the relationship between the proportion of life shared and life expectancy. We find that while the proportion of life shared can vary vastly for similar life expectancies, almost all changes to mortality schedules that result in higher life expectancies also result in higher proportions of life shared. A distinct exception occurs if life expectancy increases due to lowering the rate of senescence. In this case the proportion of life shared decreases. Our work shows that almost all selective pressures that result in higher life expectancies also result in a larger proportion of life shared. Therefore, selective forces that extend life also improve the chances that a cooperative system would be stable in terms of reciprocal interactions. Since reciprocal interactions may also reduce mortality and result in a feedback loop with the evolution of longevity, our measures and findings can be used for future cross-species comparisons that aim to disentangle predecessor and successor in the evolution of longevity and cooperation.

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