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Hum Nat. 2015 Mar;26(1):102-21. doi: 10.1007/s12110-015-9222-y.

With the help of kin? Household composition and reproduction in the Netherlands, 1842-1920.

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Department of Social Sciences, Wageningen University, PO Box 8130, 6700 EW, Wageningen, The Netherlands,


Relatives play an important role in human reproduction according to evolutionary theories of reproductive behavior, but previous empirical studies show large differences in the effects of kin on fertility outcomes. In our paper we examine the effect of co-resident kin and non-kin on the length of birth intervals over the reproductive life course of Dutch women born between 1842 and 1920. We estimate Cox proportional hazard models for parity progression based on the presence of kin and non-kin in the household while controlling for a large number of individual and community-level characteristics. We find that couples living with their brothers experienced shorter birth intervals whereas couples residing with a widowed father had relatively longer birth intervals. The effects of these types of kin on reproduction were most pronounced up to the birth of the fifth child, but not thereafter. We found no effect for mothers or other types of kin.

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