Ethnographies of 50 cultures from the HRAF files were selected for exten-siveness of information about childhood. Ratings were made to estimate the ages at which each culture assumed responsibility or teachability in children or assigned a more mature social, sexual, or cultural role. The ratings were made in 27 categories. Inter-rater reliability averaged 63 % when calculated in a way that took into account failures to rate and disagreements about age, 84 % when calculated in a way that took into account only disagreements about age. Inspection of the 27 histograms obtained by this procedure suggested that for 16 of the 27 categories there appeared to be a modal cultural assignment of social responsibility in the 5- to 7-year age range. Four of the remaining eleven categories showed a mode at puberty, while the remaining seven seemed to be assigned across a broad age range. The inherent accuracy of the HRAF data demands cautious inference. Analysis of the data revealed that, in some respects at least, diverse human cultures assign new roles and responsibilities to children in the 5- to 7-year age range.

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