Affluent families are having more children. Some working moms have “six, seven, even 14 kids,” according to Forbes. Movie stars like Angelina Jolie? More children. Reality television stars: having more children. Actually, that’s why they’re reality television stars, but you can see the trend. More children. Bigger families. Four is the new two. Why? In the same Forbes piece, David Hacker of the State University of New York at Binghamton says kids are now ” ‘luxury goods’ which people believe fill their lives with joy and deep satisfaction.”
After all that we’ve said lately about whether kids make you happy, whether you should have them at all, and whether they’ll ruin your marriage if you do, it’s a little hard to know how to respond to this. Do kids, perhaps, make you happier only if you’re relatively wealthy? Or maybe they don’t decrease your happiness exponentially, but rather at a flat rate, so that having one kid is no less happiness-decreasing than having four or five. Or maybe this is one of those instances of a few writers and social scientists looking around and noting a number of highly visible incidents of what they’d previously considered to be a rare phenomena: the black swans of parenthood. Large families stand out. Working women with large families (like Nancy Pelosi, Sarah Palin, and Michelle Bachmann) strike us as unusual, because what they do can seem impossible, or only achievable with snark-inducing levels of outside help.
What this really is is a faux trend alertâ€”but I do have a theory about high achieving women with big families. More on Slate’s XXFactor.