Having the “wrong” number of children has psychological consequences, though not always bad ones. In America 39% of people who reckon they will exceed their ideal number of children report that they are more satisfied with life as a result, whereas just 8% feel sorry for themselves (see chart 2). Indians and Pakistanis are even more cheerful about overshooting their ideal family size, as many do. (Admittedly, Indians and Pakistanis who have fewer than the ideal number of children are also pleased, suggesting they are just rather sanguine.)
In all but one of the Western countries we polled, though, undershooting is more often felt to be bad than good. In America 15% of those who have fewer than the ideal number of children think that their life is better as a result, whereas 21% say it is worse. Having no children at all is especially painful. A 34-year-old American woman, Angela Bergmann, who has been trying to get pregnant for a decade, moved to a bad neighbourhood to scrape together the money to pay for treatment. An ectopic pregnancy left her severely depressed. “It’s hugely draining on you as a couple,” says Emily Ansell, a 30-year-old university worker in Sheffield who has twice miscarried. Many couples suffer in silence: infertility still carries a stigma.
Uit: The Economist, 27.08.2016, The Empty Crib