Choosing To Have or Not To Have Children

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When parents, particularly those living in urban areas, beget children, it is the emotional benefits of having children that are foremost in their minds, according to a study conducted by the International Development Research Center (IDRC) and the Ford Foundation.

Entitled “Value of Children,” the study sought to determine the reasons why people decide to have or not to have children.  The results revealed that for some reasons for having or not having children were nearly similar in most countries.

A few parents surveyed said that they had never thought about the reasons for choosing their family size.

In the rural areas, in general, parents tend to stress the economic benefits and security that children bring.  Children provide labor in the field and household, are a source of additional income, and can take care of their parents during old age.  Children are thus often considered the “poor man’s capital.”

The study also pointed out the social and psychological satisfaction derived from parenthood.  In many cultures, adulthood and parenthood are strongly associated with each other.  Becoming a parent likewise brings about a new sense of fulfillment.

Identified in the study were factors that motivate the parents to limit family size.  Some parents, whether rich or poor, cited straight economic costs as the primary reason for their decision to opt for a smaller family.  Most parents, however, felt they could afford large families and, in the long run, would benefit economically from having children.

Cited as one disadvantage of having children was that they usually restricted the lives of parents, since rearing children could be time- and resource-consuming.  Consequently, urban –based parents ranked these “opportunity costs” highly as emotional or economic costs, especially those women who had to abandon or interrupt their careers due to childbearing.

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