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Childlessness predicts helping of nieces and nephews in United States, 1910

Lookup NU author(s): Thomas Pollet



The 'helpers at the nest' hypothesis suggests that individuals who are not currently reproducing often help kin by caretaking and thereby increase their inclusive fitness. Using a large scale historical dataset (Integrated Public Use Microdata Series sample of 1910; n=13,935), the hypothesis is tested that childless couples are more likely to fulfil such a role by taking care of a niece or nephew, but not a parent, than couples with children. Childless couples were significantly more likely to take care of a niece or nephew than couples with children. In contrast, couples with children and childless couples did not differ in caretaking of parents. Childless couples were also more likely to have more and younger nieces/nephews in their home than couples with children. © 2007 Copyright Cambridge University Press.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pollet TV, Dunbar RIM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Biosocial Science

Year: 2008

Volume: 40

Issue: 5

Pages: 761-770

Date deposited: 10/08/2011

ISSN (print): 0021-9320

ISSN (electronic): 1469-7599

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S0021932007002659


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