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

Thomas Pollet, Robin Dunbar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


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 languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)761-770
JournalJournal of Biosocial Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008


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