HideShow resource information

Demography is the study of populations and their characteristics.


  • Birth rate= the number of live births per 1000 of the population per year.

  • 1900-2014 -  three ‘baby booms’ -two World Wars, servicemen came home and started families that had been postponed during the wars.

  • 1960s - Economy healthy- people were prosperous (well off).

Two factors affect the birth rate:

  • Number of women of childbearing age (taken to be 15-44)

  • Number of children they have.  Total fertility rate (TFR) = the average number of children women have in their fertile years (15-44).   


Reasons for the decline in the birth rate/total fertility rate –

  • Changes in the position of women: easier access to divorce, abortion & contraception. More women working- have children later/less children.

  • Decline in the infant mortality rate (IMR) - the number of infants that die before their first birthday, per 1000 live births per year.

  • Fallen due to better housing, sanitation & medication (e.g. vaccines). Less babies dying = less people ‘replacing’ them.

  • AO3 - birth rate first began to drop in cities, which had higher IMR than countryside - suggests drop in IMR may not have big impact on birth rate.

  • Children = an economic liability. In the past, children - economic asset (used to work- make money). Now, can’t work (child labour banned), so an economic liability (cost money)- so people have less

  • Child centeredness- Childhood is now seen as a special period. Children are being spoiled by parents. Fewer children means that parents can focus their attention and money on them.


Future trends in birth rates

  • The birth rate has risen steadily over the past decade.  1999- 621,872 live births- total fertility rate of 1.7 children per woman. Fertility rate now - 1.95. 

  • Due to more immigration, mothers born outside UK have a higher fertility rate than those born here.

  •  Babies born to mothers from outside the UK increased from 14.3% in 1999 to 25% in 2011.

Effects of changes in fertility

Changes in the birth rate affect the following things:

  • The family - smaller families - easier - women can work, creating dual earner couples (those where both partners work).

  • The dependency ratio is the relationship between the size of the working or productive part of the population and the size of the non-working or dependent part of the population (e.g. children, pensioners, unemployed).

  • Public services and policies- lower birth rate = less schools, less child health services being needed - so less housing. However, many decisions are political so for example instead of reducing the number of schools if there is a drop in the birth rate the government could decide to have smaller class sizes.



  • The death rate is the number of deaths per thousand of the population per year.

  • Three times the number of deaths have increased - two World Wars- flu epidemic in 1918.  In the 1950s it declined. Otherwise, has stayed stable since 1900 (600,000 a


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Families and households resources »