Sociology: Demography

Useful for AS Sociology.

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  • Created by: Sophie
  • Created on: 21-12-09 20:06

What is demography?

Demography is the study of population. Births, deaths and migration can lead to changes in population size and structure.

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Birth Facts

Births are measure in 3 ways:

  • Actual numbers- the actual number of births over a period of time in a particular area.
  • Birth rate- the number of live births per 1000 per year.
  • Fertility rate- average number of children a woman has in her lifetime.

There have been 3 baby booms in the UK since 1900. The first was at the end of WW1, the second after WW2 and the third in the 1960s. This was followed by a drop in the 1970s. However, since 2001, there has been an increase again.

More women are remaining childless. More women are choosing to have babies later on in life. The average age now is 29.

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Reasons for changes in births

1. The changing position of women means that they now work so put their career first. In the past womens main life goal was to get married and have children; now their goal is to be educated for a career to support themselves.

2. Individualisation means we care about ourselves more, and this is a reason for the declining birth rate. People want to live a life of their own without having the worries of children.

3. Because of rising divorce rates, having children is a risk. Couples don't want children because they know their chances of divorce are high.

4. The cost of raising a child has gone up, so people think it's too expensive. However, it could be argues that because people are earning more money, there should be more births.

The changes in births mean that fewer schools are needed and new houses being built do not need to be suited to the nuclear family.

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Death Facts

Deaths are measured in 2 ways:

  • Death rate- number of deaths per 1000 per year.
  • Infant mortality rate- number of babies that die before their first birthday.

These factors can be affected by things like wars and the development of a country.

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Reasons for changes in deaths

1) Advances in medicine mean that people can be treated and cured for fatal illnesses so more people survive.

2) The government have taken welfare measure to ensure that people can survive. Benefits are in place for poorer families, so that they can afford food and do not starve. Free school meals are available to make sure that children are not malnourished.

3) Better nutrition = better living standards. We now have supermarkets with a wide range of foods available so we can get every food available to have a healthy balanced diet. This does not explain why women live longer, though.

A declining death rate will lead to an aging population, which means more old people than young people. This will lead to a drain on the healthcare and welfare system. However, it could be argued that lots of old people are in good health. Because more people will be dependant, there will be not enough people able to work. This could lead to a change in the education system where the elderly will be re-education and put back into work. Suitable housing and more care homes will need to be built to meet the needs of the elderly.

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Family Size

Family size is mostly affected by birth rate. The most common family size is to have 2 children. People living longer also affects family size. People are more likely to have exdended families. e.g grandparents, great grandparents.

Childlessness has increased over the recent years. 1 in 10 women born in 1941 are childless, whereas 1 in 5 born in 1961 are childless today.

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perfect, just what i needed thanks :)



Brilliant, thank you!




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