Wednesday, March 11, 2009

1.7 kids

Family sizes have been shrinking steadily for decades - the number of children in an "average" family is less than 2 nowadays in the US. This is definitely borne out by the number of families I know personally with 1 child, some with 2, a rare few with three kids. Most of my friends have two children.

I have to admit that it's become so much the norm that seeing a family with more than 2 kids usually warrants a second glance. It's not often you see a family with four kids out at the mall, or five or more kids in a single family anymore. I'm likely to try to rationalize a couple with four or five kids along as obviously having taken some of the neighbor kids on their outing, too.

I think this is a good thing, by the way. I'm not advocating for zero birth rate, but zero population growth isn't a bad thing. We need to get a better handle on resource usage and eliminate the social problems that overpopulation (usually hand-in-hand with poverty) cause.

But that's not really the topic of this post. With the average household size somewhere less than 3 people, why on earth do television ads regularly show families with three or four kids? Case in point: the Mirena ad I just saw on television. (Actually, this is probably a bad example, in a family of five kids, I surely hope that you are contemplating some sort of birth control!).

The ad says that if you don't want any more children, that you should consider Mirena as your option (it's a new form of IUD). The only thing I can think when I see the ad is, "well, duh! You have five kids, you should have your tubes tied and stop!" I'm sure their actual target customer demographic has one, possibly two kids, so the large family in the ad seems out of sorts. Is it supposed to be a nostaligic nod to larger families? Is it supposed to imply that you don't need this IUD is you don't have a huge family already? Is the "mythical family" still mom, dad, four kids and a dog? It hasn't been like that for almost 50 years.

The big family in the ad is just so incongruous with the message that reliable, easy birth control is accessible that I have to think that the ad-people who came up with it are living under rocks and don't have any clue what real American demographics look like.

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