I am an evolutionary anthropologist and population health scientist with interests in the family, childhood and human well-being, particularly in the context of the social and demographic changes that accompany economic development. This website provides information on my research and teaching activities, including the ‘Lawson Lab’ research group. I am currently an Assistant Professor in Integrative Anthropological Sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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Active research topics include: (i) the well-being implications of polygynous marriage and child marriage in Sub-Saharan Africa, (ii) evolutionary perspectives on variation in fertility and the demographic transition, and (iii) time allocation trade-offs between children’s work and schooling in rural Tanzania. My research combines primary data collection in the field and secondary analysis of existing large-scale demographic and health surveys from both contemporary African and European contexts. You can read an interview about my recent research and background here.

*** New Papers ***

Lawson DW, Borgerhoff Mulder M. 2016. The offspring quantity-quality trade-off and human fertility variation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 371, 20150145.

Lawson DW, James S, Ngadaya E, Ngowi B, Mfinanga SGM, Borgerhoff Mulder M. 2015. No evidence that polygynous marriage is a harmful cultural practice in northern Tanzania. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.