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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.

Original publication

DOI

10.1017/S0021932007002659

Type

Journal article

Journal

J Biosoc Sci

Publication Date

09/2008

Volume

40

Pages

761 - 770

Keywords

Adolescent, Adult, Child, Child Rearing, Female, History, 20th Century, Humans, Infertility, Intergenerational Relations, Male, Odds Ratio, Reproductive Behavior, Residence Characteristics, Socioeconomic Factors, United States