As many of you know, I'm an only child and to an extent have spent a significant amount of time deciding whether I would have preferred siblings or if its better to have all the attention. I think as you get older there is a definite shift in preference. When I was little I didn't seem to mind not having a brother or sister very much. My friends with siblings seemed to always want them out of their room and away from their stuff. I didn't have to share my toys, room, clothes, etc. and my parents let me spend the night at my friends' house fairly liberally. Even in high school it seemed like a good deal I got a car when I turned 16, mainly so my parents would be relieved of having to shuttle me around, something that probably wouldn't have happened if I had older siblings.
But post-high school I think being the only child has started to have more costs than benefits. First of all you're the only one to help out with family events, crises, situations, etc. No one else to share the load and as I think about my parents getting older and becoming seniors citizens the thought of taking care of everyone by myself really begins to stress me out. Another thing is since I'm so used to having them there all the time I find it very difficult to be away from my family. I've attempted to live other places, but found it lonely and depressing at times (although very freeing at other times).
Now that I'm getting older and thinking about having kids of my own, I've come to believe that it wouldn't be fair for me to only have one kid. I mean it already doesn't have aunts/uncles or cousins and without a sibling it would really be all by itself. Its hard to imagine that there are parts of the world with what is being termed "extreme low birth rates", to the point where if things don't turn around countries will be at less than 1/2 of their current population in the next 3 decades. The NY Times Magazine has a great (but very long article), about this phenomenon. At the same time I don't know if I can blame the Euros for having fewer kids, children are extremely expensive these days and when gas is $4.60 a gallon its hard enough to make ends meet. But also as a woman its a big decision to make, having to process changes to career goals, travel plans or whatever else I imagined my life to be like, that now won't be possible (or will be at least that much harder). Luckily for me at least, it will be a while before I cross that bridge.