How Many Kids Do You Want?

You might not reach your goal.

How Many Kids Do You Want?

You might not reach your goal.

-Jane Farrell

Mother and daughter

Research shows that most American women say they want two children. But according to a new study, most women miss their goal, having either one child or more than two, depending on their level of education.

Says S. Philip Morgan, director of the Social Science Research Institute at Duke University, where the study was conducted, “Women are more likely to miss their target than to hit it, and their level of education is an excellent predictor of whether they will miss the target high or low.”

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Women who have careers that seem to require postponing a family, or who stay in school for a long period of time, have fewer children than those who are not in school or who are already married when asked about their fertility goals.

Another factor: A person’s age at marriage. “We found that both women and men who postponed childbearing and married late were much more likely to have fewer births than they intended,” Morgan said in the report. 

The two groups—those with one child and those with more than two—effectively balance each other, the study said, keeping fertility levels in the United States consistent. (

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