Changing Fertility & Life Expectancy Patterns

Changing Fertility & Life Expectancy Patterns

Fertility is measured by the average number of children women between the age of 14 and 44 give birth to in a given society. Over the last three decades statistics clearly show that British women are waiting longer to have children and are choosing to have fewer of them. Consequently family sizes are getting smaller.

Some of the reasons behind this include:

Delayed marriage: People are getting married later on in life. This may be due to longer life expectancies or the increased opportunities open to women in education or the workplace.

Developments in birth control: Better and more widely available contraception give women greater control over their choice of when to have children.

Changing attitudes: Historically large families might have been a matter of survival. More children meant a greater income from child labour. Now children are financially dependent the cost involved is great.


Changing life expectancy patterns

Life expectancy is the age you are expected to live to. Improved health and sanitation, advances in medicine, the introduction of a National Health Service and developments in midwifery have all contributed to a dramatic increase in life expectancy within the UK.

In 2006 a man was expected to live until he was 77 whilst a woman is expected to live a further five years.

An ageing population: A reduction in fertility and an increase in life expectancy have resulted in an altered age structure within the UK. In other words, there are growing numbers of older people in proportion to young people.

This raises economic issues. For example, there are fewer people of working age and more people financially dependent on the state or their relatives. This has resulted in a change to the retirement age. It has also brought about an increase in the number of beanpole families. Beanpole families are families made up of only a few people spread across the generations.