Family sizes are currently on the decline, and this trend is expected to last for the foreseeable future.
Recent research has highlighted a major shift in family structures, with forecasts showing a notable reduction in the number of relatives an individual will have in the coming years.
Researchers in Germany suggest this change will particularly impact the makeup of younger family members, such as cousins and grandchildren, which are anticipated to decrease. In contrast, there will likely be a notable increase in older family members, including grandparents and great-grandparents.
The study, conducted by an international group of researchers, forecasts the development of human kin relationships across the world. The team’s main objective was to explore how shifts in demographics might influence the composition and size of families.
“We asked ourselves how demographic change will affect the ‘endowment’ of kinship in the future. What was the size, structure, and age distribution of families in the past, and how will they evolve in the future?” explained Diego Alburez-Gutierrez, one of the study’s authors.
So, the team examined historical and future data from the 2022 revision of the United Nations’ World Population Prospects.
According to Alburez-Gutierrez, their approach involved using mathematical models to represent the connections between an individual, their ancestors, and their offspring during a specific time frame. This yielded average age and gender distributions for various kinds of familial relationships for each year.
This revealed a worldwide pattern of family sizes on the decline. In 1950, for instance, a typical 65-year-old woman had around 41 living relatives. Yet, in 2095, this figure is anticipated to fall to only 25.
The reduction is also more significant in certain geographic areas. In South America and the Caribbean, a woman aged 65 is forecasted to have just 18.3 living relatives in 2095 compared to 56 living relatives in 1950– marking a 67% decline.