This used to be a sign of poverty; now it's a status symbol
The long stereotype among the poor, uneducated and religious having multiple children has now become a sign of affluence among elite families in some areas of the country.
Due to a combination of social and economic pressures, the American birthrate is at its lowest point in decades, as reported by the Deseret News. In especially wealthy areas such as New York and Boston, only the truly wealthy can afford the high costs of child care for multiple children.
"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," wrote the Babycenter editorial team.
According to Steven Martin, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, the families who are having the most kids are in the "top 1 to 1.5 percent," the environmental website Grist reported.
The New York residents who are considered to have large families generally have three to four children, according to The New York Times.
“It’s a status child. The whole family doesn’t fit in a cab. It’s a lot,” Greenwich Village resident Christina Lewis Halpern told the Times. She has one son and is the founder of the nonprofit organization All Star Code, but her goal is to one day have three kids.
Raising children is expensive, and many parents can't afford to have as many children as their neighbors, especially in areas with a high cost of living. The most recent Department of Agriculture data show that raising a child from birth to 18 will cost a family on average $241,080.
For other parents, it's less about status and more about a desire for a large family.
New York resident Pamela Paul wrote in The Washington Post that "having three or more children has now come to seem like an ostentatious display of good fortune, akin to owning a pied-à-terre in Paris." However, she justified her own reasons for wanting a third child by saying, "To me, a family with just two kids seems minimalist and even a bit sad."
In his defense of his own six-child family, Telegraph reporter Colin Brazier discussed the benefits of having a large family, which include decreased per-child costs as the siblings share clothes, toys and a living space. He also pointed out research that showed that children with siblings often are healthier and have more developed social skills.
Whatever the reason to have a large family, those parents who are unable to afford, don't want or can't have multiple children sometimes feel judged, especially if they have affluent neighbors with three or more kids, according to the Boston Globe.
“I get the sense that (people think) we’re choosing to have one child because we don’t love our son as much as people with multiple children, and it drives me nuts," Jennifer Rego told the Globe. “One woman came up to me at Trader Joe’s and, ‘Oh, how could you deprive him? You’ll change your mind.’ ”
Emily Hales is an intern on the national team, covering issues facing families in the United States. She is a communications major at Brigham Young University.
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