Thursday, October 24, 2013

Are Middle Children an Endangered Species?

Birds of a Feather: It looks like
Middle Children are going the
way of the Dodo.
          As if Middle Children weren’t already getting their unfair share of the short end of the stick, I heard something a few weeks ago that I found truly disturbing. I was talking with a radio host about D.C. dysfunction and the newly formed Middle Child Party, and after I was off-air I continued listening to the station and heard the host say something like, “Well, if family size keeps shrinking, soon there won’t be any Middle Children.” He was so flip about it. I think he even laughed a little when he said it – like it was no big deal. I mean, really – people get all up in arms when some obscure insect is in danger of extinction, but the possible end of Middle Children, well, that’s pretty funny, huh? Naturally, I was horrified, so I had to look into it. Much to my dismay, it turns out he was right. Households are definitely getting smaller. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average size of the American household has diminished by one person from 3.67 in 1948 to 2.55 in 2012. Okay, so families are getting smaller. Maybe that has less to do with fewer children and more to do with higher rates of divorce? I mean, that would certainly account for the loss of one whole person per family. Maybe it’s not all gloom and doom for Middle Children after all. Not so fast.

          According to a 2012 National Health Statistics Report, at the beginning of the 19th century the average fertility rate of women in the U.S.was about seven children. By 1960, women were popping out an average of 3.7 kids. And if I’m reading the results of this and various other reports correctly, it looks like it’s now down to around two. GULP. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you need more than two children to have a Middle Child. So as the fertility rate continues to drop, there will be fewer and fewer Middle Children, right? But maybe there’s hope. Maybe this is just an American thing and the rest of the world will save us from extinction! No such luck. Turns out the total fertility rate for the world is also inching towards two. Thanks a lot, world. You’re a big help.
The End of the Road: things don't
look good for Middle Children.
         Now, I don't want to get all dramatic, but let’s face it -- Middle Children are doomed! We're a dying breed! (CLICK HERE for the World Wildlife Federation’s list of other endangered species. Notice “Middle Child” isn’t on there -- how typical.) Of course, this is something first and last-borns will never have to worry about. There will always be an oldest and youngest, even if the fertility rate drops to one – they’ll just get both titles. Lucky bastards. As for us, we can add this to the list of Middle Child burdens we must bear. I’m sure many will say our inevitable demise is a good thing. Future generations will be spared our constant whining and complaining, they'll argue. (Sadly, many Middle Children might agree.) But let’s see how they’ll feel when there’s no one around anymore to blame everything on.

 NOTE: I’m not very good with numbers. I can barely add. I realize I’m hardly a mathematician let alone a statistician, so if my thinking is off here, someone who can count please, PLEASE, tell me I’m wrong!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Middle Children need to be heard!