Outline the View That Recent Demographic Changes Have Resulted in Changed in the Nature of Family Life in the UK

In this essay I will explain how recent change of population has resulted in the recent increase of family diversity such as the family types found in the UK today such as the nuclear family, extended family, lone parents, reconstituted families, same sex families, beanpole families and cohabiting families. I will also explain the four factors that affect population growth and briefly explain some of the trends and patterns. I will conclude by explaining my view of how much important demographic changes are.

Demographic means the study of population and how it has changed over a certain amount of time, diversity means the change or the difference between one thing and another. The four factors that affect population growth are birth rate, fertility rate, death rate, life expectancy and cultural diversity. I will first tell you about the trends and patterns of birth rate. In the UK in 2004 only 716,00 children where born, which was 34% fewer births than in 1901 and 21% fewer than 1971; Although birth rates over the course of the century have not been a straightforward decline. It’s been a history of fluctuations.

Since 2001, the birth rate steadily rises. In 2007 ONC announced that 2006 had the highest birthrate for 26 years. There are some reasons for the number of births in 2001 being lower than the rates in 1901, one being the number of infant mortality rate which is the number of babies dying at birth or in their first year of life, this could be the result of sanitation, lack of water supplies and nutrition and medicine. A second reason would be that as standards of living increased, so did the average cost to bring up a child which was calculated at about ?140,000, this resulted in families limiting their family size.

A third reason of birth rate was because of the dramatically changed views about women and their roles in the 20th century, this changed the attitude towards family life, having children, education such as leaving school, going to college and then to university and having a career, this resulted in a decline in fertility rate as women chose to have fewer children if any at all. This could be the result of beanpole families both parents may want a career so the grandparents are used to look after the children.

The second factor I will tell you about is Fertility Rate and the trends and patters this has created. Fertility rate is the number of children that women of childbearing age have in any one year. In the past 100 years the rate has declined, for example in 1900 there were 115 live births per 1000 women ages 15-44 compared with only 57 in 1999 and 54. 5 in 2001. One reason for the decline in fertility would be women having a more reliable birth control specifically the contraceptive pill which gave women a power over their reproduction.

Another reason for the decline would be the expansion of education opportunities for women such as going to university instead of leaving school and marrying and having children, women wanted the ambition of getting a good job and earning their own money. These reasons above could affect the family types of today as there would be less of the traditional nuclear families consisting of a mother, a father and one or more children and there could be a rise of cohabiting couples who are both studying or have jobs.

The decline in fertility rates have also encouraged the decline of full time mothers and encouraged the growth of dual-career families in which couples combine paid work with family life and child care. With such things as birth control and job opportunities for women it gives them a lot of independence and this could also lead to the rise in single parents as women don’t feel the strain as they would have a few years ago for divorcing their partner if married.

Whilst it is an advantage to women the fact that they are independent can choose themselves when to have children or to have them at all some sociologists argue that we should be more concerned about the trend towards childlessness that is appearing in the recent years. The Family Policy Studies Centre estimate that one woman in five will choose to remain childless and this figure is expected to double in the next 20 years. In 2000, one in five women aged 40 had not had children compared with one in ten in 1980, and this figure is expected to rise to one in four by 2018.

The third factor is death rate, I will explain the trends and patterns Since 1901, death rates have remained steady. As population has increased, life expectancy has increased and death rates have fallen; between 1971 and 2004 the death rate for all males fell by 21%, while death rate for all females fell by 9%. The fall in death rate is down to a few things which are the improvement of public health (sanitation and hygiene) the advance on medical technology and practice and rising of living standards.

The increase in life expectancy could be the result of the formation of family typed such as extended family and beanpole where 3 or more generations live in the same household and have roles such as looking after grandchildren. My last factor is of Cultural Diversity. Immigration has led to cultural and religious diversity in family life. In 2000 Essex University carried out research that indicated that only 39% of British-born African-Caribbean adults under the age of 60 are in a formal marriage.

Research shows that over 50% of African-Caribbean families with children are one parent families. Rates of divorce are higher but there’s an increasing tradition of African-Caribbean mothers choosing to live independently within their community Berthoud notes two important and increasing trends these are- 66% of 20 year old African- Caribbean mothers remain single compared with 11% of their white peers while at 25 years of age these figures are 48% and 7% respectively. At the age of 30, 60% of African- Caribbean men are unattached compared with 45% of their white peers.

Bethoud suggests two reasons for African-Caribbean women choosing to bring up children alone is because: -African-Caribbean women are more likely to be employed than African-Caribbean men, they find men a ‘potential financial burden’. – Chamberlain and Goulborne (1999) note that African-Caribbean single mothers are more likely to be supported by an extended kinship network in their upbringing on children The pattern of migration since the 1950’s had produced a number of distinct, minority ethnic groups within the general population.

In 2001 the majority of the population in Great Britain were white British (88%) the remaining 6. 7 million people (11. 8%) belong to other ethnic groups. This led to religious diversity in the 20th century. Conclusion I conclude that I think demographic changes in the population are important, I believe it makes our country more ethnically diverse and and more welcoming to different social backgrounds as well as becoming more independent, especially on the women’s point of view as we are able to get jobs, and have an education.

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