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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2013 Sep;68(5):816-24. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbt048. Epub 2013 May 20.

Just like family: fictive kin relationships in the Netherlands.

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Correspondence should be addressed to Marieke Voorpostel, Ph.D, FORS, c/o University of Lausanne, GĂ©opolis, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.



This study examined the extent to which older adults in the Netherlands include a nonrelative as part of their family (create fictive kin), and whether this process is similar in other age groups. It assessed the importance of absence of close family ties and the experience of divorce in the family network for the creation of fictive kin.


Using data from the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study, logistic regression models for the different age groups tested the importance of absence of primary family relationships and the experience of divorce in the family among three age groups (18-40, 41-60, 61-79, N = 6,571).


Prevalence of fictive kin relationships was higher in older age groups. Both the absence of close family relationships and the experience of divorce within the family were related to having fictive kin, although the latter was only found in the youngest age group. For older adults never having married, being widowed or divorced were important predictors of having fictive kin relationships.


The study provides support for the idea that the creation of fictive kin is a form of substitution for absent family members and shows that older adults in the Netherlands are active agents in the construction of their family network.


Diversity in aging; Family sociology; Family structure.; Sociology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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