Family, family size, number of children, General Social Survey, cultural values


Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Dr. Roy Cole


The purpose of this study was to analyze the level of influence of multiple factors on family size, and to investigate and identify any changes in the prevailing cultural system of values regarding families and children in the United States. Secondary data was collected for the years 1974 and 2004 from the General Social Survey. 12 variables were used for analysis (2 Dependent: Ideal Number of Children and Actual Number of Children, and 10 Independent: Years of Education, Total Family Income (1974 and 2004), Country of Family Origin, Religious Preference, Strength of Affiliation, Political Ideology, Region, Size of Place (in thousands), and Type of Place resided at age 16), and grouped into cultural, socio-economic, and geographic categories. The data was analyzed using a Poisson Log-Linear Regression analysis. Frequency analysis of the two dependent variables suggests a decrease in ideal family size as well as a decrease in larger (3 to 8+ children) families. Regression analysis suggests a decrease in the influence of geographic factors between 1974 and 2004, as well as a consistent influence of socio-economic factors on actual family size. Cultural factors (specifically related to religion) were influential on both dependent variables for the two different years.