Noelene Lancastle grew up surrounded by 27 cousins and 10 second cousins. They were a range of ages and had what seemed like a world of experiences, always ready to teach her to skateboard or swim, help carry heavy boxes, play with her on camping trips or have her back in school in North Delta, B.C.
"There were always lots of kids around. You know how your parents dragged you around to houses? There were always some kids for us to play with that were somehow related to us," Lancastle, 46, said from Vancouver.
Lancastle's older brother and sister don't have children and her husband is an only child. So Nicholas, 9, and Charlie, 7, don't have any cousins at all — a growing trend as the decreasing fertility rate causes extended families to narrow over time, sociologists and demographers say.
Worldwide, families are shrinking, according to a kinship study published in December in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. That study, using international demographic data for every country in the world, projected a 38 per cent global decline in living relatives for individuals aged 65 by the year 2095, compared to 1950.