Amish Family Size: How many children is typical?

Amish families are large, with 6-7 and even up to 9 children on average

amish childrenIn contrast to modern society, an Amish couple expects to have a large family, and an Amish woman often becomes pregnant shortly after her wedding.  Amish view children as gifts from God, and thus the use of contraception is frowned upon.

However, birth control and other family planning methods may be practiced by some Amish, particularly in more progressive communities. Yet Amish families remain large, with an agrarian tradition and a need for manual labor also supporting a high Amish birth rate.

Amish family size

Amish typically have between 6-8 children.  The number of children may vary by community, though 6 or 7 are often cited as averages for the Amish as a whole.

Nolt and Meyers note a range of family sizes among Amish in Indiana, for example, with the Kokomo community averaging only 6 children, the Elkhart-Lagrange community 7, both Allen and Daviess counties with 8, and the Swiss Amish settlement at Adams County with a whopping 9 children per family (Amish Patchwork, Meyers and Nolt). In The Riddle of Amish Culture, a study of Lancaster County Amish, Donald Kraybill notes that roughly 10% of Amish families have 10 or more children.

A study by Hurst and McConnell found an average family size in Holmes County, Ohio of 5 children, though this figure includes families which have not completed their fertility cycle, and thus would be lower than one taking into account only completed families (Amish Paradox, Hurst and McConnell).

Amish view children as blessings from God. At the same time, various factors may influence family size, including a shift away from farm work and greater openness among some Amish to family planning. As a result, Amish family sizes have in fact dipped slightly in some communities.

For further information, see:

An Amish Patchwork: Indiana’s Old Orders in the Modern World, Thomas J. Meyers and Steven M. Nolt

An Amish Paradox: Diversity and Change in the World’s Largest Amish Community, Charles E. Hurst and David L. McConnell

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