PROVO — Though rare, the percentage of families in Utah County with six-plus kids is holding steady.
Even in a county known for children — and lots of them — Erica Goulding is used to her family being seen as unusual, the Daily Herald in Provo reports.
"People see us as a large family," Goulding said. "When I told people I was having my sixth, they looked at me like I was having my 20th baby."
Goulding was raised in a family of five kids, and often felt as if she had nine siblings due to a job-sharing arrangement her mother had with another woman. Goulding's husband also comes from a family of five children.
"Since I was little, I always wanted six kids," Goulding said.
Families the size of Goulding's are becoming more unusual nationally, as fertility rates drop and women begin having children at an older age than they traditionally have. However, in Utah County, the rate of women birthing at least six children has remained consistent over the last handful of years.
The annual rate of births that are a mother's sixth-plus child has remained between 3.7 percent and 4.3 percent of all Utah County births from 2014 to 2017, according to numbers from the Utah Department of Health and the Utah County Health Department.
Large families have traditionally been a state trend. Utah has the largest household size in the nation, with 3.19 persons per household compared to the national average of 2.65, according to a January 2018 fact sheet from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah. Utah also ranks first in the nation for the percentage of people under 18 years old and has the second-highest fertility rate.
Utah County is the youngest county in the nation, with a median age of 24.4 years old, according to the 2018 Utah County Community Assessment. About 34 percent of the county is younger than 18, and 9.7 percent is under the age of 5. In Saratoga Springs, half of the population is under the age of 19.
While the county's population continues to grow, the birth rate has decreased. There has been a 10.1 percent decrease in the number of births since 2008 in Utah, according to the report, and a 14.1 percent decrease since 1990. Women also appear to be waiting longer to have a child, with a 67 percent decrease in birth rates for mothers ages 20 to 24 from 1990 to 2015, according to the report.
Emma Miller, an OB-GYN at the Timpanogos Women's Center in Lehi, hasn't seen patients in her practice who are on their sixth or higher child. She said that could be due to an abundance of young couples in northern Utah County.
She mostly sees first- or second-time mothers, and after three or four, parents are looking for more permanent birth control methods.
"Four is the new six," Miller said.Comment on this story
Miller — one of nine siblings herself — said couples that start having children at older ages than in the past means they will likely have fewer children than previous generations.
"Subjectively, I don't think I'm seeing as many people wanting as many kids," Miller said.
For Goulding, whose six children range in age from 3 months to 12 years old, she's seen more people who have three to four children instead of her family's six.
With kids in different activities and homework, she said things are always busy. Six children can also be expensive, but they've made it work.
"It is fun, it is crazy, but I think that it's worth it," Goulding said.