Adopting agriculture means less leisure time for women

An Agta family relaxing in the afternoon.

Enlarge / An Agta family
relaxing in the afternoon. (credit: Mark Dyble)

For most of our history, humans got hold of food like any other
animal: by hunting and foraging, moving around to find the best
resources. Settling down in one place to cultivate crops is a
comparatively recent development. But once it started around 12,000
years ago, agriculture spread through human cultures across the
world, fundamentally changing our
, and possibly even
. In many ways, farming seems to have been
terrible news
for the people who adopted it, leading to poorer
nutrition and greater social inequality—but it also resulted in
higher fertility rates and a massive population expansion.

Understanding how and why this technological change was adopted
remains a challenge. Studies mostly rely on fossil evidence, but
there are also clues in the modern world, as some present-day
groups of people are moving away from hunting, fishing, and
gathering their food, and towards agriculture.

A paper published in Nature Human Behaviour explores how this
shift affects the time budgets of hunter-gatherers in the
Philippines, finding that women who participate more in
agricultural work have less leisure time—around half the leisure
time of women who prioritize foraging. The results fall in line
with past research that challenges the concept of hunting and
foraging as arduous work with scant rewards, and this work
contributes to a growing understanding of the social dynamics that
go along with a shift to agriculture.

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
Adopting agriculture means less leisure time for women