Hot topics – poll results on ideal number of children
Nancy Ten Kate
“What do you think is the ideal number of children for a family to have?” The Gallup Poll has asked this question 23 times in the past 60 years. The first time it was asked, in 1938, 66 percent of Americans said the ideal number was three or more children. The percentage who thought three or more was ideal gradually increased after World War II and reached a peak of 80 percent in 1962. Twenty-five years later, the numbers dropped. When the same question was asked in 1997, just 36 percent of respondents said three or more was the ideal number of kids.
But only half the sample was asked the standard question in 1997. The other half was asked: “If money were no object, how many children per family would you consider the ideal number?” When financial pressures were written out of the equation, the number of people who favor a lot of kids jumped. Fifty-three percent of respondents wanted at least three children if finances were not a problem.
Lower-income respondents’ and higher-income respondents’ answers varied very little between the standard question and the alternate question. Forty-six percent of those with incomes of less than $20,000 thought three children were ideal using the standard question, and 50 percent thought so if paying for them was not a concern. Of those earning more than $75,000, the answers were only 1 percentage point apart, at 36 percent and 37 percent, respectively. But the three middle-income groups ($20,000 to $75,000 annually) were strongly affected by the wording of the question, with differences of 19 to 30 percentage points, depending on the issue of finances.
Results of the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll were published in the February 1997 issue of The Gallup Poll Monthly; telephone (609) 924-9600.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Copyright by Media Central Inc., A PRIMEDIA Company. All rights reserved.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group