Popular thinking dictates that most children want to be astronauts or rock stars when they grow up, but it seems in reality their aspirations are far more down to earth.  A survey of 1,569 adults found the most common childhood dream was to be happily married with a family.

It was the top choice for one in three women, and one in five of men.

Most men harboured hopes of sporting stardom but the prospect of a happy family was their second greatest wish.

Don Slater, of the London School of Economics who conducted the research for the National Lottery said: ‘It is positive to note that the dream for a family is powerful enough to beat the desire to be David Beckham or a Spice Girl.’

Despite the desire for a happy marriage, it seems such dreams are increasingly going unfulfilled. The marriage rate is at its lowest level since records began 150 years ago and the birth rate is 1.79 children per woman compared to nearly three per woman in the mid Sixties.

The research uncovered different trends among the generations.

While older respondents once dreamed of becoming train drivers, younger ones, perhaps spurred on by reports of footballers’ enormous salaries, saw their future in professional sport.

Suprisingly perhaps, the third most popular childhood dream was of becoming a teacher.

Just 5 per cent of the over-60s mentioned it as a childhood dream but this rose to 26 per cent among those aged 18 to 29. Dreams of becoming a doctor have also risen.

Among the 30 plus generation it was 7 per cent of all those asked and 17 per cent of all 18 to 29 year olds.

Mr Slater added: ‘It seems the latest generation of childhood dreamers are not solely concentrating on fame and celebrity and choosing realistic goals which can be achieved with hard work, such as becoming a doctor or a teacher.’

Overall, the survey found we dream more now than we did in previous generations. Just 5 per cent of 18 to 29 year olds had no childhood dreams, 20 per cent of the over-60s say they had no aspirations at all.

Mr Slater said: ‘Older people consistently said that dreaming was not encouraged or positively taboo in their youth.

‘Women particularly said this – they were told that girls shouldn’t have dreams and aspirations in their childhood.’

Via: This is London