Are Big Families a Status Symbol?

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When it comes to family size, bigger seems to be better these days - at least judging by celebrity couples like Heidi Klum and Seal (four kids) and Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt (six kids).

On television, large families dominate on reality shows like Jon & Kate Plus 8, 19 Kids and Counting and 9 By Design.

Do these shows send the message that parenting is cheaper by the dozen?

Of course, there have always been big families. But in the past, they were more common among religious groups and poorer, less educated women (presumably, with less access to birth control).

The big difference is that nowadays, professional and wealthy moms are having bigger broods. Forbes.com recently asked the question, "Are professional women shattering the two-children, nuclear-family norm?"

The answer is: yes and no.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, fertility rates increased steadily until 2006 to 2.1 children per American woman, hitting a high since the baby boom in 1961. But because of the recession, there's been a slight dip in the birth rate over the past few years .

So the average is still around 2 kids. But there is a trend towards wealthier families having bigger families. Forbes cites the Council on Contemporary Families which says there's been a significant increase in three- and four-children families among the "super rich," or the top-earning 2% of households - those with an annual household income of about $400,000 or more.

So why have more kids? Are they just another accessory to a fabulous lifestyle? Despite the recent studies which show that kids don't make us any happier , do we somehow expect more kids to make life better?

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Photo: TLC

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