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Birth and fertility rates in Eng. + Wales:


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Birth and fertility rates in Eng. + Wales:

BR in 2020 - 1.65 (lowest since 2002)

FR in 2020 - 1.55 (lowest since records began)

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BR + FR statistics:

  • The total fertility rate reached a record low in 2020, decreasing to 1.58 children per woman

  • The number of live births dropped by 15.9%

  • Number of live births in 2020 decreased by 4.1% from 2019

  • Average age of motherhood is 30.7

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AO3 - ‘New baby boom?’

  • ‘In the 2000s there was a new ‘baby boom’, between 2001-2008 the Total Fertility Rate increased every year ‘

    • Due to economic growth and prosperity (before the financial crisis)

  • Younger migrant women, many from Eastern European countries tend to have larger families which also explains the rise in fertility’

    • 1990-00s, there was large scale migration from eastern Europe, mostly for economic reasons

  • A baby boom in contemporary society would not be applicable because of inflation and the cost of living crisis

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Reasons for women having less children - Changes in the position of women:


  • Interviewed girls in the 70s then in the 90s and found that ambitions shifted from love + marriage to careers


  • Studied magazines and found that girls had more positive role models


  • Found educational opportunities to be the biggest cause of change

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Reasons for women having less children - Childcare:

  • Childcare has become expensive and hard to maintain, can put women off having children

  • Only 3-4 year olds have 33 hrs of free childcare weekly

  • Child benefit is capped at two children

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Reasons for women having less children - Abortion + Hakim:

  • Abortion has become more accessible for women, pregnancies can be terminated later and there is more acceptance of it as a medical procedure


  • Voluntary Childlessness - more women are choosing to not have children, less stigma towards women choosing to stay childfree

  • Women have greater choice now and are delaying having children to get ahead in their career, education etc

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Decline in infant mortality:

Infant Mortality Rate - The number of children dying before their first birthday per 1000 live births

In 1900, over 15% of babies died within their first year of life

During the 1950s, the IMR began to fall

  • Women no longer feel the need to have larger families with the risk of infant mortality

  • Harper - A fall in the IMR leads to a fall in the birth rate as there are less ‘replacement children’

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Reasons for the decline in the IMR:

  • General improvements in medicine, sanitation and hygiene + ante/post natal care

  • Development of the NHS (1948), the welfare state, benefits and housing

  • More awareness of illnesses, vaccines and immunisations

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AO3 - Infant Mortality Rate:

Brass + Kabir

  • The trend towards smaller families began not in rural areas where the IMR first began to fall but in urban areas where the IMR remained higher for longer

Statistica, 2022

  • In 2022 the IMR was 3.6 deaths per 100 live deaths

Index of Multiple Deprivation

  • The IMR is significantly higher in 10% most deprived areas of the UK

    • Are more likely to have poorer housing, less nutritious food, less likely to see doctors

  • 4.6 for routine manual occupations compared to 2.9 for higher managerial and professional occupations

  • 7.3 Pakistani background occupation compared to 2.6 for White background

    • Pakistani background have higher rates of illnesses and genetic/congenital issues

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Children are an economic liability:

Until the late 19th century children were seen as economic assets as they could be sent out to work and earn an income

However, they have since become an economic liability

Cuts in benefits

  • Child benefits capped to 2 children (Coalition gov)

  • Cuts to child benefits (Thatcher)

  • 30 hours of childcare provision for 3-4 year olds (only during term time)

No child labour

  • Factory Act 1833 banned child labour

  • Education Act 1880 introduced compulsory education, and over time the school leaving age has risen to 18 making children fully dependent until they are legal adults

Pester Power (Zaretsky)

  • Children are easily swayed consumers and may annoy parents to buy them goods - Unit of consumption

AO3 - Argument is deterministic, and people choose to have or not have children for more than just economic or financial reasons

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Child Centeredness - Beck + Beck-Gernshein:

  • They believe these changes to be linked to individualisation as people are more likely to choose what is best for them and be more ‘selfish’ in family planning

  • Now, people are more likely to plan a child around their career and when they feel like they are ‘settled’ and ready

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Child Centeredness - Parenting styles, Legal changes + Compulsory schooling:

Parenting Styles

  • Historically, parents did not show affection to children and were less responsive to them

  • Aries - children were seen more as ‘mini adults’

  • The perception of children has shifted, and now parents are more emotionally responsible, caring and sensitive to their children

Legal Changes + Compulsory Schooling

  • Banning child labour and making school compulsory has made children economically dependent and vulnerable

  • Safeguarding laws and policies, e.g. ‘Every Child Matters’, to protect and support children

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Child Centeredness - Geographical mobility:

  • Due to increased geographical mobility, families have gotten smaller and therefore more privatised and focused on their children

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