While leaving home is a central issue in studies dealing with the family system in contemporary Europe and the USA, it has largely been neglected in historical studies. This book provides the first comprehensive overview of the way in which children in historical societies gained their independence from the parental generation. Apart from providing a wealth of descriptive information on this process and on its consequences in later life, a major strength of the volume lies in its conceptual insights. The chapters follow a common life-course framework which illuminates how the resources, needs, social ties and patterns of leaving home of children are shaped by earlier life experiences and the historical and cultural circumstances affecting them. The consideration of the causes and consequences of living without adult children in a period when people had fewer life options provides a refreshing perspective on contemporary processes where «voluntary» leaving home is more of an issue. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches are used. The book is the product of a collaborative effort of researchers from eight different countries (Belgium, France, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States). The comparative perspective is a key element in the various contributions.