No they didn't. All this study did was establish that some people have more children than other people, and that some people starve. Hey, no shit. They didn't establish *at all* that there was any impact, or that the genetic selection made future generations more hardy against...anything, including starving.
Go learn about evolution. If some people have more children, and others starve, the next generation has a higher frequency of the alleles present in the people who have more children. This is evolution. Evolution DOES NOT work "towards a goal" or in order to make "future generations more hardy against... anything", but in response to current selection pressures at the time. This is one of the most annoying and pervasive misunderstandings about evolution, even some of my 3rd-year undergrad students continue to make this mistake.
Which would have been an interesting thing to demonstrate, had they actually demonstrated it.
Which they did. All they need to demonstrate is that the distribution of children was not egalitarian and spread evenly through the society. This may seem like it's always obvious, but if they have a measure of the inequality of the distribution of children, that's also a pretty good (rough) estimate of the speed of evolution.
No it's not. It's not *even* correlational. Correlational is when you have two observations, A and B, and you can demonstrate that A changes with B. Here, they have A (reproduction), but *there is no B*.
The correlation is the thoroughly well known one between sex-selection and evolution, which it's not in the scope of a study like this to try and prove. What they proved was there *was* sex selection, and have a quantified figure of it. The original paper is available from: http://sites.google.com/site/alexandrecourtiol/publications . Not just was there opportunity, but "[they] showed that the intensity of Darwinian selection in this population was in line with empirical measurements of the opportunity for selection reported for other species" meaning that this is evidence to support that our "modern", "egalitarian" societal structures like monogamy, agriculture and social support have no significant effect on evolution whatsoever
Again, what did we actually *learn* from this study, other than the fact that living in Finland in the 1850s probably sucked?
People who already understand this thoroughly may simply have had their intuitions confirmed (which is also important), but it remains a widely held belief that since the modern age people have no longer evolved, due to societal constructs which limit evolutionary effects. Anything which helps to dispel this ridiculous belief is great. Also, there are few well-analysed figures of these characteristics of human societies, especially historically. Also, see the above paragraph.
(Sincerely, MSc in genetics)