Submitted by SignWonderful2068 t3_11se1ff in askscience

There’s a lot of reference in, say, family therapy to “emotional triangles”. And I’ve been coming across a lot of weird references in different disciplines to the idea of odd-numbered things being more “stable” than even numbered things.

There is a lot of literature out there studying what effect the size of a family has on a ton of different outcomes. But most of it seems to be about exploring differences between small families and large families.

Has anyone ever looked in to whether odd numbered families have it better than even numbered families?



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deevulture t1_jce2rso wrote

I tried to look up if there's much information about this topic in particular. The fact that this question was the first to pop up says a lot about that in that front.

That being said, the closest you'd get would be the difference between a nuclear family with one child versus two kids and maybe three kids. A larger family of 12 or 13 an additional child or not would likely not have a significant effect. In that sense, there is research on that. Children cost money to raise, and with every additional child the costs go up exponentially, depending on other factors - access to money, food, clothing, other lifestyle factors - vacation time, travel necessities etc. would have an impact on the life of the children give or take one or 2. Lack of secure resources puts more strain on family relationships. Single children have more time devoted to them by their parents than families with more of them, but the significance of this has been disputed for the most part. Smaller families are associated with better IQ, job outcome, academic achievement than larger families, which tend to get married younger and have more kids at an earlier age. It's not exactly what you're looking for, but it might help.


cronedog t1_jce851l wrote

> with every additional child the costs go up exponentially

Wouldn't the additional cost per child go down? Generally insurance for a family is the same rate regardless of size. With multiple kids, some of the stuff they can share. Hand me downs, bedrooms, etc.


What things with 4 kids cost more than twice as much as 2 kids?


TeeDeeArt t1_jcep7u6 wrote

> What things with 4 kids cost more than twice as much as 2 kids?

Cars are a big one. It's not a linear increase, it's a massive jump you're forced to make at a certain point. Particularly for booster seats.

I agree with you otherwise, but there are a few things which do jump up.

Your regular four or 5 seater was already going to be bought, likely even with 0 kids, so the cost is effectively 0 for the first two-three kids (depending on age separation and need for boosters). Then it suddenly jumps up in cost.


gutzville t1_jcgk5sk wrote

You can get a new 7 seat mini van for around 35. You can get a new 15 passenger van for around 50. By the time you have that 15th kid it's like you're making money


cronedog t1_jcfqm41 wrote

>Cars are a big one.

Yeah, I was thinking about that after I posted. Some go to a minivan, but when you deal with 6+ kids there is a point where you need a second vehicle, but some smaller families already have a 2nd vehicle, one for each working partner. I accept it's a complicated exception but wasn't sure how to quantify it.

Sometimes there will be cases where an extra kid doesn't cost more, until you hit capacity and have to spend twice as much (or thrice if you have an unusually big family).


Additional-Fee1780 t1_jcpmgkl wrote

US already has more than one car per licensed driver. 2 per couple is already the norm.


Boring_Ad_3065 t1_jcfy5hn wrote

> Researchers found that families with one child spend 27% more on the only child. Families with three or more children spend 24% less on each child.

Anecdotally kids from larger families I knew growing up often had older children support parenting duties, such as covering for an hour or two between school and work, or driving siblings to school once they got their license.


gutzville t1_jceoj2p wrote

I was thinking the same thing. Maybe it's exponentially where the exponent is between 0 and 1.


deevulture t1_jcedi7t wrote

Well food would cost more. And if you add other factors - childcare, transportation costs, certain bills - with more people in the household, there's gonna be more utilities used. I was thinking of those factors. But you're right if there's a difference in the grand scheme of things, it likely wouldn't be much. Though in the more easy to see aspects, again food, will go up (also buying diapers while buying school supplies) would give the impression that things are more expensive. Which is a stressor even if not as big of a difference


cronedog t1_jcefdiu wrote

Those things would increase linearly, at worst. Of course three kids cost more than two kids, just not 50% more. I'd posit that for every kid x, the added cost is less than for kid x-1.


SUMBWEDY t1_jcepmq0 wrote

Those would be linear or probably slightly less than linear costs though.

More people in a house eat more food, but you can buy in bulk for savings so cost per person could go down.

Utilities would scale more or less linearly given the area of the house stays the same. Water is iffy it might go up with more people having showers but might go down by doing larger washing loads at a time.

Transportation is interesting though as it's theorized cars having 5 seats caused a tiny effect on families only having 2 children because there's not enough room for 3 baby seats in the back of most cars.