Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Age and gender are two important factors that play crucial roles in the way organisms allocate their social effort. In this study, we analyse a large mobile phone dataset to explore the way life history influences human sociality and the way social networks are structured. Our results indicate that these aspects of human behaviour are strongly related to age and gender such that younger individuals have more contacts and, among them, males more than females. However, the rate of decrease in the number of contacts with age differs between males and females, such that there is a reversal in the number of contacts around the late 30s. We suggest that this pattern can be attributed to the difference in reproductive investments that are made by the two sexes. We analyse the inequality in social investment patterns and suggest that the age- and gender-related differences we find reflect the constraints imposed by reproduction in a context where time (a form of social capital) is limited.

Original publication




Journal article


R Soc Open Sci

Publication Date





data science, life history, sex differences, social capital, social investment