The question of how many children people should have is one of the biggest Big Questions we have asked. It is a deeply personal decision, and one, as human beings, that we must all make. There are many things to take into consideration—the cost, your sanity, a child’s happiness, the planet. We asked six writers to enter this moral maze.

Lauren Sandler made her choice “within the limits of reality”, and is perfectly happy with one child. Jonathon Porritt has two children that have “massively enriched” his life, but he warns that having more can be harmful to the planet. Emma Duncan argues that, in economical terms, three children is the ideal number. Ma Jian has four children scampering around his house and feels “a sense of symmetry and completion” in his family. Kevin Maxwell praises the love and support that his seven children can offer each other, while David Benatar claims that having children is immoral, and that the only way to prevent harm in the world is to have none at all.

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