By Ghadeer Ghloum
KUWAIT: In the past, people used to have a great sense of pride and belonging in their large families and extended relatives. However, with the emergence of modern education and the increasing demands of work, this has drastically changed. Today, the priorities of people have shifted, and family size is no longer the sole source of pride and identity for individuals. Statistics from Kuwait’s Public Authority for Civil Information have shown a notable decrease in the number of family members. The average number of Kuwaiti members in private households fell by nearly 30 percent from 6.44 in 1995 to 4.60 in 2020. There are several factors that may explain why the number of family members in Kuwait has been declining.
Financial and educational reasons
Many Kuwaiti families prefer to have fewer children due to economic reasons. Raising a large family can be a costly burden and many families are simply unable to afford it. Moreover, with the development of technology and industries, people can pursue careers that were once not available before. The emphasis on higher education and achievement of professional goals in our contemporary life pushed people to become more concerned about securing a strong career.
This change in priorities inevitably had an impact on family size in Kuwait, hence people began to have fewer children because parents want to provide their children with better educational and career opportunities to secure a bright future that is based on their educational qualities and work skills, as life’s current circumstances demand.
In a previous statement, Kuwait University Professor Amthal Al-Huwailah said although Kuwait is a wealthy country and its citizens enjoy high salaries, the cost of living has become too high for many households, especially in terms of meeting their lifestyle needs. In addition, many small families prefer private and quality education over public education, which entails additional costs that families with large numbers of children may not be able to bear as before.
Development of medicine
Another factor is greater access to birth control methods. Although large families were once the norm in Kuwait, birth control methods provided more options and flexibility in terms of childbearing, reducing the pressure to have many children and allowing people to focus on other priorities such as education and career advancement.
Shahad, a newly married Kuwaiti woman, told Kuwait Times: “By allowing women and men to better control the timing and frequency of their pregnancies, birth control methods have enabled couples to have more control over their choices about when and how many children they want to have. This has resulted in smaller and more reasonable family sizes, as couples now can afford securing good education and better living conditions for their children, as having less children gives parents a better chance to focus on their healthy upbringing by giving them enough attention.”
Thus, contemporary generations’ pride has shifted from pride in large families to pride in attaining educational and career goals. This shows that people’s perspectives and views have changed significantly.