Using data from the second wave of the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study (NKPS) for 3069 female and 2096 male respondents, we studied differences in norms of universal and of personal familial responsibility between childless individuals and parents. Differences depend on the type of norm studied. Childless individuals, and in most cases only those who opt voluntarily for a childless life, express weaker norms of universal familial responsibility in comparison with parents. Women's norms of personal familial responsibility do not vary by parental status. Men appear to need the presence of children to activate feelings of personal responsibility for family members. Differences between childless individuals and parents are attributable to selection rather than to adaptation. The theoretical and social implications of our findings are discussed.
Journal of Comparative Family Studies
Centre for Rotterdam Cultural Sociology (CROCUS)

Keizer, R., Dykstra, P., & Poortman, A.-R. (2011). Childlessness and norms of familial responsibility in the Netherlands. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 42(4), 421–438. Retrieved from