Family Size Preferences in a College Student Sample
Brian H. Bornstein*, David K. DiLillo, Hannah Dietrich
Identifiers and Pagination:Year: 2017
First Page: 31
Last Page: 36
Publisher Id: TOFAMSJ-9-31
Article History:Received Date: 10/01/2017
Revision Received Date: 25/04/2017
Acceptance Date: 28/04/2017
Electronic publication date: 31/07/2017
Collection year: 2017
open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode. This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Family size preferences and birth rate vary across culture, gender, religion, race/ethnicity, and time; yet little is known about how or when people decide how many children to have. Sociobiology suggests that women should invest more time and effort into the decision than men.
The study’s purpose is to examine family size preferences in a sample of male and female college students.
A sample of childless, college-aged participants (n =394; 58.7% women) completed a survey about their desires concerning procreation (e.g., “How many children do you want to have?” “How committed to that number are you?” “How old were you when you picked this number?”).
Women reported deciding how many children they ideally wanted at a younger age than men, being more committed to that number, and having given it more careful thought. Women also wanted to have their first child at a younger age than men, although men wanted marginally more offspring overall. Participants who used birth control wanted fewer children than those who did not. There were few differences as a function of religion or race/ethnicity.
Family size preferences were consistent with sociobiological predictions, with women knowing how many children they wanted at a younger age than men, being more committed to a specific number, having given the matter more careful thought, and wanting to start childbearing at a younger age. Thus, despite recent cultural and societal changes, biological imperatives still appear to influence decision making about this most fundamental of behaviors.