Using data from the first wave of the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study (NKPS) for 1,451 men aged 40–59 we examine the impact of permanent childlessness. We extend on previous work by focusing on partnership history as a possible explanation for differences between childless men and fathers. Our results show that the impact of childlessness is weaker than we had expected. Many initial differences between childless men and fathers are attributable to differences in their partnership history. Nevertheless, childless men differ from resident fathers regarding their community involvement, their level of income and their satisfaction with life. Childless men differ from non-resident fathers with respect to their income and work hours. Theoretical and societal implications of our findings are discussed.