NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Single Child Families Increasing

November 22, 1999

Studies show that more and more women are opting to have just one child. They are often those who decide to delay childbirth or balance a career with motherhood.

  • In 1980, 10 percent of women ages 40 to 44 had one child, according to the National Center on Health Statistics.
  • Today, nearly 19 percent of that age group has just one child, and the rate is even higher -- 22 percent -- among non-white women.
  • The Census Bureau says that the percentage of women ages 18 to 34 who plan to have only one child has increased from 12.7 percent in 1985 to 13.9 percent today.
  • Last year, the Department of Agriculture estimated that a family with an annual income of more than $60,000 would spend $228,000 to raise a child -- not including college expenses.

But the reason for stopping at just one child isn't always financial. Women are getting married at a later age than they did previously. The delay can set the stage for secondary infertility -- a woman's inability to become pregnant a second time.

Some women say they find that raising two or more children creates more work than they can handle, especially if they work outside the home.

There is even a magazine for parents of one child, called "Only Child."

Source: Ann O'Hanlon, "When One Child Is Just Enough," Washington Post, November 21, 1999.


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