Living in a large family is now beyond most people's comprehension. Current opinions about the basis of intimate ties range from claims of freedom to choose emotional and sexual relationships to the conviction of genetically driven behaviour. Growing up with few or no siblings over a long lifespan has fuelled preoccupation with personal identity, finding the ‘real self’. A high value is put on individualism and privacy in living arrangements. Lack of aunts, uncles, and cousins as well as siblings increases the influence of peer groups. Relationships with the one or two remaining siblings may be intense: ‘life's longest relationship’ colours the world at a deep psychic level. In parts of the world kinship ties are still built into clan-like structures, the basis of economic, political, and social life. Reducing the birth rate and a public acceptance of sexual behaviour separated from reproduction would fundamentally change these societies.
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