I’m satisfied with my family size. I only have one child, and, to tell the truth, I’ve never really been that interested in having a big family. I think I could handle maybe one or two more, but having several children has never been my ideal. That being said, my satisfaction with one child puts me in the minority — at least according to a recent study from the Pew Research Center.
The organization compiled research on ideal family size versus actual family size, and they found that many Americans wish they had slightly larger families. According to the study, 52 percent of women in the United States said two children is ideal, while 44 percent thought the magic number was three.
To put this in perspective, 40 percent of American women reaching the end of their childbearing years said they don’t have as many children as they would like.
What’s causing us to limit our family sizes?
The Financial Cost of Kids
The Pew study found that there appears to be a correlation between economic well-being and birthrate. Overall, when times are good, the birthrate is higher, whereas it drops during difficult times. This might be due to the fact that raising a child can be expensive. While many of us can get away with raising a child from birth to age 17 without spending $200,000 (like the government says it costs), it is still an expensive endeavor.
If you feel like you can’t afford them, you might limit the number of kids you have to save money — and you might not reach your ideal number. Additionally, the research points out that many women are starting later, which limits the number of children they can have. Some of them wait because they’re trying to establish careers, or because they feel like they need two paychecks in order to make ends meet.
The Career Cost of Kids
Those that do have children might be limiting the number they have for career reasons, as well. Consider this: If you think you need two paychecks to meet your expenses, it’s hard to ask someone to give up work for weeks, or months, on end. Your finances might not be able to handle it.
If you have more children, there’s the obvious higher costs — but there’s also the fact that someone will need to spend less time on an outside career and more time in the home.
That can be a daunting financial and career reality for many, and one of the reasons that parents are actively limiting family size.
How Do You Make It Work?
Of course, there are plenty of stories of how to raise a large family on a tight budget. There’s a family in my neighborhood with seven children, and several families in my neighborhood have at least four. They succeed because they prioritize their spending, and live frugally on one income, or with the primary caregiver working part-time or earning from small at-home business ventures.
It’s up to you to decide what size of family you want — and how you’ll make it work financially.
What’s your ideal family size? How do you make it work?