Is Aspirational Middle-class India Heading for ‘One-child’ Norm?
Good news for our population statistics. Gone are the days of four-five kids in a family. Even three is rare. More and more couples nowadays are opting for one-kid option in urban India. Although the elders in the family might talk about siblings, many in the younger generation are contended with one child.
The reasons are many: late marriage age; postponing of pregnancy for career; nuclear family system; expense of raising a child etc.
Let’s face it: Having just one child is much easier and controlled. It’s cheaper. With all our resources devoted to an only child, he or she will be spoiled with every opportunity you can afford. You can travel lightly and frequently, and devote all your energies and dreams to this child.
It also helps in the family dynamic of father, mother and child, and allows the mother resume her career before it is gone forever.
A second child is often regarded with more judgment than joy. While having one child is considered a blessing, exceeding that number calls into question the parent’s resources, the first child’s well-being and the mother’s careers. Can we really afford a second child in this economy? How would we get any of our own work done?
Of course, the already well-to-do class does not have these questions to ponder. But this is a major dilemma for the aspirational middle-class of India.
India is aspirational. More than affordability, it is about moving up the ladder. With double income, an average middle-class couple can thing big for one child, but raising two kids without compromising on their education, dreams might be a big challenge.
Sure, many single-child parents complain that they actually have a more difficult time because the onus of entertaining the child falls entirely on the parents, but then there is no sibling rivalry and you don’t have to be a referee.
There are many takers for the two-child norm too, especially those who themselves come from dual-child households. The worst fear for these parents is their child would be left alone without a sibling after them or the child might grow up as a selfish person. But three kids might be just too much to handle, no offence.
This aspirational class might be a fraction of India’s population, but this is the most influential class too. The trickle-down effect is evident in the poorer sections in cities and towns, where more and more women prefer to work as housemaids or help than bearing children throughout their reproductive age.
This definitely is something to cheer about. Might be India doesn’t need a one-child norm as people themselves decide the pros and cons. There is no right or wrong answer, which is probably a good thing: Men and women have the luxury to decide what they want for their family, and they have the unchallenged ability to make that wish a reality.