Demography and the Family

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Demography and the Family

  • Demography is the study of populations and their characteristics.
  • Characteristics include:
  • Size - is the population large or small, is it growing or declining?
  • Age structure - is the average age of the population rising or falling?
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Demography and the Family - Birth Rates

  • Birth rate is the number of live births per 1000 of the population per year.
  • Two factors determine the birth rate:
  • The proportion of women of childbearing age (15-44)
  • How fertile they are.
  • Total fertility rate is the average number of children women will have during their fertile years.
  • The birth rate is decline due to changes in the position of women (abortion, education, work etc). Decline in the infant mortality rate (the number of infants who die before their 1st birthday per 1000 live births per year), families don't need to have more kids in case of infancy death. Children are an economic liability (less willing to have large families). Child centredness, shift from quantity to quality.
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Demography and the Family - Death rates

  • Death rate is the number of deaths per 1000 of the population per year. It has fallen since 1900.
  • Death rate started to fall in 1870 due to medical advances and continued to do so until 1930's when economic depression and war caused it to rise slightly. Since 1950's it has continued to decline.
  • N.R.Tranter (1996): between 1850 and 1870 the decline was due to the fall in number of deaths from infectious diseases such as diphtheria especially amongst the young.
  • By the 1950's the so called diseases of affluence (heart disease and cancer) replaced infectious diseases as the main cause of death.
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Demography and the Family - Death rates ***.


  • McKeown (1972): argues improved nutrition accounted for up to half of the reduction in death rate and was particularly important in reducing deaths from TB. 
  • Some disagree and says it doesn't explain why women who have smaller share of family food live longer, nor why deaths from infectious diseases such as measles actually rose at time of better nutrition.
  • After 1950's improved medical knowledge and organisation helped improve death rates, advance include atibiotics, immunisation, blood transfusions, maternity and setting up of NHS.
  • 20th cent. more effective national and local govern. led to improvement in public health and environment quality.
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Demography and the Family - Life expectancy

  • Life expectancy refers to how long on average a person born in a given year can expect to live.
  • Males born in England in 1900 could expect to live until 50, women until 57.
  • Males born in England in 2004 can expect to live until 77, women until 82.
  • In the past 2 centuries life expectancy has increased by 2 years per decade.
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Demography and the Family - Infant Mortality

  • Infant mortality rate has declined due to better health care and standards of living.
  • In 1900 15% of babies died in their first year.
  • Today a new-born baby has a better chance of reaching its 65th birthday than one born in 1900 did of reaching its first.
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Demography and the Family - Differences

  • There are still differences in death rates despite the overall improvement.
  • Women generally live longer than men, although the gap is narrowing due to factors such as women working.
  • Those living in the north and Scotland have a lower life expectancy than those in the south.
  • Working class men in unskilled jobs are three times more likely to die before 65 as those in managerial and professional jobs (more physical strain, stress and respitarory problems.)
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Demography and the Family - Ageing population

  • An ageing population has a profound impact on society.
  • Older people consume a larger proportin of services such as health and social care, it puts a strain on the health care as focus is taken off other age groups.
  • Policy changes: the retirement age is being increased.
  • The increase of number of old people raises the dependency ratio, the number of retired people raises so it increases the dependency ratio and the burden on the working population.
  • The number of pensioners living alone has increased, one-person households now account for 14% of all households.
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Demography and the Family - Migration

  • Migration is the movement of people from place to place within  a society (internationally or nationally).
  • Immigration is the movement into an area/society.
  • Emmigration is the movement out of an area/society.
  • Net migration is the difference between the number immigrating and emmigrating, and is expressed as a net increase/decrease due to migration.
  • People may leave countries and move into another due to better health care, war, poor social support, safety from natural disasters, no jobs etc.
  • Migration affects the size and age of a population (e.g. retired people may be more likely to move abroad).
  • It can affect family structures (e.g. more mixed race families and larger families).
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