716,000 children were born in 2004. This is 34% fewer births than in 1901 and 21% fewer than 1971.
There was a fall in births during the First World War, followed by a post war ‘baby boom’, with births peaking at 1.1 million in 1920.
Births increased again after the Second World War with another ‘baby boom’.
In 2007, the Office of National Statistics announced that the 2006 birth rate was the highest for 26 years.
Reasons why the number of births in the 21st centu
A major decline in the infant mortality rate. Reasons for this include: better hygiene, medical care and improvements in sanitation.
Birth control – increased availability and reliability of contraception e.g the pill and the legislation of abortion minimizes the numbers of women giving birth.
Changing social attitudes and values – no longer seen as the norm to have lots of children.
Attitudes towards women’s roles have dramatically changed and this has affected women’s attitudes towards family life, having children, education and careers.
Family size has declined, as people are having fewer children. Self and Zealey argue that the trend of smaller families is a result of changing social attitudes towards family sizes, delayed entry into marriage or cohabitation and increased female participation in education and employment.
Family size has been impacted by social change, for example, the ‘ripple effect’ of WW2 led to a ‘baby boom’ in the 1950s and then a ‘baby bust’ in the 1960s. And the introductions of reliable contraception in the 1960s are significant social changes that altered family sizes.
Cost of having a large family and there is no longer an economic need to have children.