Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

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




Journal article


J Biosoc Sci

Publication Date





761 - 770


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