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AS Unit 1 - The Family

8) Decline in average family size

The birth rate has been declining in Britain; from 28 per 1,000 in 1902 to around 11 per 100 in 2005.

The reasons for smaller families

  • Contraception – More effective safer and cheaper birth control has led to fewer children
  • Compulsory education – Children were banned from work and education became compulsory in 1880, this means they can no longer bring in money, but instead use much more. This means it makes economic sense to have a smaller family
  • The changing position of women – Many women now want to have a career of their own rather than care for a large family, compared to before when women’s role was to do so.
  • Decline in infant mortality rate – Fewer people die in their childhood than ever before, this means that less families are compensating by having more children
  • A geographically mobile labour force – The modern labour force needs to be very mobile. This is an incentive for smaller families because it makes it easier to just pack up and move elsewhere
  • Changing values – Parenthood is a lifelong, stressful commitment, many couples are now deciding that they do not want childhood, whereas before this would have been a bad thing, it is now accepted in society as a norm

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