Fertility rates have generally declined over the past of 100 years. For example, in 1900 there were 115 live births per 1000 women aged 15 to 44, compared with only 57 in 1999 and 54.5 in 2001.
There is evidence that women are delaying having families. Changes in fertility rates suggest that women are having children at an older age than they were 30 years ago.
The average of married women giving birth has increased by six years since 1971 to 20 in 2003.
Reasons why the fertility rate has declined
More effective and reliable birth control e.g the contraceptive pill has given women greater power and control over population.
Educational opportunities have expanded for women, particularly entry into university.
Increase in job opportunities for women.
Changes in social attitudes to family life – women could see that there were other lifestyle choices in addition to getting married and having children.
Individualisation – Giddens argues that modernity has led to increased individual choice, from higher personal mobility both social and geographical e.g moving place and moving jobs is easier – gives individuals more choice about how to run their lives. Increase in available choices e.g educational and career opportunities for women.