Examine the Reasons for Changes in Birth Rates and Family Size Since 1900

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Since 1990, there has been a declining trend in birth rates and family size. The birth rate refers to the number of live births per 1000 of the population per year. There have been incidents of 'baby booms' during the 20th century, where the birth rate has suddenly increased. These include after both world wars and during the 1960s. However, overall the birth rate has been decreasing. There are a number of social factors responsible for these changes. Firstly, the changing position of women in society has been partially responsible for the decline in birth rate and family size. The changes include greater equality changes between women and men, more education and work opportunities for women, easier access to divorce and wider availability of contraception and abortion, allowing women to control their fertility. as a result of these changes, women are seeing other possibilities in life other than marriage and childbearing. Many women are delaying child birth and putting their careers first. this leads to them having children at a later age and consequently being unable to have several children. Furthermore, a change in social attitudes mean some women are not having children at all. In addition to this, many sociologists argue that a decline in infant mortality rate leads to a decline in birth rate. They argue this because couples are not having children to replace the ones they have lost in infancy, as infant death is much rarer. In 1990, 15% of babies born died before their first birthday. Today, the infant mortality rate stands at only 5%,a great decrease from 1990. The decline in infant mortality rate is linked to a number of factors including improved healthcare, better nutrition for both babies and mothers and better care for mothers and their children through agencies such as antenatal and postnatal clinics. The decline in infant mortality, it is therefore argued, has a direct impact on the birth rate. Furthermore, birth rate and family size have decreased...
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