Middle children could be about to become extinct

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  • With parents having fewer children than they have had in the past, the middle child could become more and more uncommon.

    Research compiled by author Adam Sternbergh for The Cut suggests that in the last 40 years, parents’ ideal number of children has gone from three to two, leading to the conclusion that the middle child could become extinct.

    The research shows that back in the 70s most mums had at least three children, usually more – in fact, 40 per cent of mothers between 40 and 44 had more than four children.

    During that time 25 per cent of mothers would have had three children, 24 per cent would have had two children, (which seems surprisingly low considering that that would now be seen as a typical family unit), and a tiny 11 per cent had one child.

    Data from the Office for National Statistics also showed that last year in the UK the number of children that women of childbearing age were likely to have dropped to its lowest ever level.

    In 2016, it was reported that women aged 45 had on average 1.9 children, compared to the average 2.21 children their parents were calculated to have had in their generation.

    This could all be due to the ‘millennial’ lifestyle. With rising property costs and more competitive job roles and career paths, many millennials are forced to live at home with parents and put off having a family.

    This means that they’re waiting for longer to get married and are likely to have fewer children because they’re utilising less of their childbearing years.

    Research shows that over the last four decades the average age of first time parents increased by four years, to 30 years for mums and 33 years for dads.

    To add to these financial aspects, research shows that last year the average cost of looking after a child until they are 18 (excluding rent and childcare, which are two of the biggest expenses) increased from £72,600 to £75,400. That’s almost a four per cent increase in one year.

    Let’s hope there’s something we can do to protect this endangered species – adopt a middle child maybe? Although on second thoughts, with middle child syndrome it might be best to just stick with adopting a panda.