Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Large Familes Aren't Back - But Who Is Having them Has Changed

a related post on this article is also at Childfree IssuesAccording to this article, the hype about the return of the large family is more of a product of celebrity culture and the news media than actually based on statistics. The number of families with three kids or more has actually dropped a percentage point from ten years ago.

Family Size In America: Are Large Families Back?

Martin says it's not so much that big families are back, as that they never disappeared in the first place. "Large families have consistently been common," he points out. "Two is the norm, but for every 34 mothers who stop at two, there are 28 who have three, four, or more."

So why does it suddenly seem like you can't walk down the street without tripping over a double-wide stroller and a few toddlers?

Despite the nationwide numbers, big broods could be a trend in certain areas, says S. Philip Morgan, sociologist and demographer at Duke University. "You do get clusters of behavior that are very real," he says. "But it's not appropriate to generalize them across the country, because there are other pockets that are behaving very differently."
. . .
While the percentage of moms having Brady Bunch-sized broods has held steady, the women who make up their ranks have changed somewhat. These days, professional and wealthy moms are having bigger families -- traditionally more common among certain religious groups and poorer women with less education, according to government surveys.
One wonders if the rise in fertility treatments is somehow to blame; granting twins, triplets or more to a woman who might otherwise had a single child. I'm not quite sure that the shift toward the large broods among working women instead of the poor is quite a positive thing. In terms of environmental damage and consumption levels, it may mean the planet will be worse off. In terms of entitlement mindset, trendiness, and the chaos in Starbucks, its a lose for everyone.
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