According to O’Donnell (2002), demography is the study of human populations, particularly their size, structure and development. Demographers – those who study trends in population – are concerned with measuring the size of population and expanding their rise and/or decline. There are two main aspects to demography, these are: •
Structures: these examine how population is made up
Processes: these examine the rate of change of the variables
Population patterns are governed by three factors: births, deaths and migrations. The General Statistic Office (C.S.O) in Ireland collects, compiles and analyses population statistics. The census of population gathers demographic, social, economic and administrative data at a given time relating to all persons and households in a country. According to figures from the CSO office in 2006, the population of Ireland was 4,239,848 people compared with 3,917,203 in April 2002, representing an increase of 322,645. The natural increase in population for the period 2002-2006 was 33,000, compared with 23,000 for the period 1996-2002. An analysis of the age and sex composition of the population indicates the effect of the peak in the number of births which occurred in 1980, the sharp decline which followed over the next 15 years and the subsequent partial recovery over the past decade (McDonald, 2009).
There have been changes in the behaviour of Irish people in relation to birth, marriage and family formation. The following trends in fertility have emerged: smaller families, later motherhood, more voluntary childlessness, more single-parent families, more ‘only children’ and more children born outside legal marriage (Tovey and Share, 2003)
According to Giddens (2006), the most important basic concepts used by demographers are crude birth tares, fertility, fecundity and crude death rates. Crude birth rates are expressed as the number of live births pre thousand of the population per year. They are called ‘crude’ rates because...
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