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July 14, 2008 / C H Thompson

Reasons for demographic change

Some of the many reasons for changes in birth rate, increased life expectancy’ improved infant mortality rate and death rates are detailed below. Yet before you read through it’ll be worth your while watching this public service broadcast which explains the what public services are.

Advances in medicine, public hygiene and health education

  • medicine – advances in medical science has improved medical treatments, drugs and surgical procedureshealth-educational-cartoon-large
  • public hygiene – the health benefits which come from clean running water and sanitation are fundamental to prolonging life
  • health education – improved basic education such as reading and writing allows the general population to be taught basic levels of hygiene, diet, exercise, effects of drinking & smoking etc. so the population can take preventative measures.
  • Note – some medial practitioners argue despite such education the UK populations diet is getting worse rather than better

Welfare state (social security)

  • since the UK state established its welfare state in 1945 the nations health improved considerably through free access to health-care via the NHS
  • free NHS provision lowered infant mortality rates as well as providing access to raft of previously chargeable services such as seeing a doctor which people had to pay for.
  • the social capital provided by the NHS can be taken for granted. The following film describes the birth of this priceless institution -the National Health Service.
  • Note – the Conservative Party’s privatisation of the NHS is seen by some political pressure groups as the dismantling of NHS

Nutrition

  • massive decline in absolute poverty along with health education and higher living standards has enabled the population to access higher quality food
  • improved living standards allowed people to refrigerate food and relatively more recently freeze food allowing access to fresh fruit and vegetables all the  year round
  • the subsequent improvement in diet reduced dietary diseases such as rickets

Working conditions

  •  from the Victorian period and beyond the 1950s working conditions have improved enormously with higher standards of health and safety at work has cut down the number of serious injuries
  • other workplace conditions have improved from hours worked,
  • longer holidays
  • to an earlier retirement age
  • have all contributed to reducing the physical and mental demands and subsequent health risks to workers

Individualisation

  • postmodernist Beck puts it down to the rise of individualism, and children prevent people from doing the things they want to because of the restrictions they impose on adults. He also argues we live in more uncertain times, this uncertainly highlights risk, and one way people reduce this element of risk is not to have children.

All these factors contribute to fertility rates and average family size

Return to family overview

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