Ideal fertility

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This article describes a measure that can be evaluated for a particular individual person, household, or family. It is not a statistical aggregate, though it may be statistically aggregated to provide average measures and distributions.

The measure is subjective, as the measurement of its value is based on people's beliefs, opinions, and/or values.


Ideal fertility (also referred to by the related term ideal family size) refers to the number of children a person considers should be present in an ideal family. Note that ideal conditions here presuppose that the children will survive to adulthood, since children dying off at a young age would not be ideal.

Ideal fertility is not a directly measured value, but rather, individuals are polled about their estimate of ideal fertility, and the values thus obtained are studied (by taking averages or considering the distribution of values).

The term ideal family size is sometimes used synonymously with ideal fertility, reflecting the fact that the number of children is the key variable in family size. Note, however, that technically, family size would include a count of the adults in the family too. Therefore, one should understand from context whether the measure reported is fertility or family size.

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