Family 6 - Demographic trends

Unit 8 of the book

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  • Created by: Marta
  • Created on: 29-04-12 11:19

* Social trends (2005): Population growth

21st century: UK growth rate around 0.25% per year.

Main factor: natural change - the difference between births and deaths. Since 1901 there have been more births than deaths every year apart from 1976.

Since the late 1990s an important factor has been immigration.

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* Social trends (2005): Births

Actual numbers: there has been a decline in the actual number of live births in the UK.

Birth rate: the number of live births per thousand of the population per year. It has fallen steadily since 1900.

Total fertility rate: the average number of children that a woman would have during her lifetime. It has declined since 1940. It peaked in 1964 (baby boom) - 2.95 - and reached a record low in 2001 - 1.63. In 2006 it was 1.84.

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* Social trends (2005): Deaths

Actual number: despite the large population growth, it has remained fairly steady since 1901.

Death rate: the number of deaths per thousand of the population per year. It has fallen from 18.4 in 1900-2 to 9.4 in 2005. When the population grows steadily and there is little change in the actual number of deaths the death rate will fall.

Infant mortality rate: the number of deaths of infants under one year per thousand live births. It has fallen dramatically from 142 (25% of deaths) in 1901 to 5.1 (less than 1% of deaths) in 2005.

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* Social trends (2005): Life expectancy

It is the number of years a person can expect to live based on data from a particular year. It has grown since 1901; in 2003-5 it was 76.6 years for males and 81.0 for females.

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* Social trends (2005): Population age

The population of the UK is ageing: from 1971 to mid-2006 the population over 65 grew by 31% whereas the population under 16 declined by 19%. People are living longer and women are having fewer children.

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* Social trends (2005): Family size

The total fertility rate is used as a rough indicator of family size; as it has fallen since 1900, so has family size.

Today the most common family size is two children. (link: evidence of nuclear family)

Childlessness has increased in recent years. (link: family diversity)

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Possible causes of the decline in mortality

  • Advances in medicine
  • Free school meals (1902; 1914)
  • School medical examinations (1907)
  • National Insurance Act (1911): sickness benefits for low-wage workers
  • Decline in absolute poverty in the first half of the 20th century
  • Healthy diet (Livi-Bacci, 2007)
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Hart (1985)

Criticism: The decline in mortality had begun before the introduction of modern medicinal treatments.

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Womack (2006)

Women are having fewer or no children because they cannot afford to.

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* Beck & Beck-Gernsheim (1995)

People are having fewer or no children as a result of individualisation: children restrict adults' freedom and are a source of risk for adults in a "risk society".

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Social Trends (2007)

Educational and occupational trends for women explain the decline in fertility rate.

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* Sharpe (1976; 1994)

This longitudinal study shows that women's attitudes to marriage and children are changing: women have become more independent and career-orientated. There is no longer a stigma on singlehood and childlessness.

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