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Examine the Main Trends in Births and Deaths in the United Kingdom since 1900

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Birth rates overall has been on the decline, (the amount of live babies born per year per 1000 of the population). There are many reasons for this, one of the main ones being the changes in women’s positions. Women are now seen as more legally equal to men, they are now allowed to vote with no animosities held against them, also they now get paid to work which allows them to provide for themselves and their families and not be dependent on men. Although feminists would say that women do not get equal pay and are discriminated against because of their sex there are laws that are ‘supposed’ to outlaw this unequal behaviour. There are different forms of contraception and an increase of them which allows women to be in control of their own fertility this adds to there being a decline in births. Births are also decreasing due to the fact that society is now more child-centred. Childhood is socially constructed to be such an important part of a human beings life therefore women have fewer children to concentrate on and can focus their time and money on less kids than if they were to have had more.

This leads to the fact that children are now seen as an economic liability, it is much more expensive to look after one child let alone six. However having fewer children increases the aging population so the burden will be heavier on those that work; on the other hand it decreases the dependency ratio because although the population is aging the amount of the young population will decrease because there are fewer young people being brought into the world; this then leads to a smaller working population so eventually over time it will rise again. In 2001 there was a slight increase in births due to a high increase of migration into the UK; immigrants are more likely to have a higher fertility rate this explains why there was a spike in the birth rate. In the UK the death rate (number of deaths per 1000, per year of the population) has remained pretty stable but there had been moments where this has fluctuated, for example the two World Wars, the flu epidemic (1918) and the economic depression (1930).

The death rate has decreased due to a number of reasons; one being the improvement in nutrition, Mckeown (1972) argues that the improvement in nutrition is the reason for up to half the reduction in the death rate. However his argument does not justify against why women who have small amounts of the food supply in families live longer than men. Another reason for the decline in death rate is the improvement in medical supplies and knowledge. The improvement in this helped to reduce death rates as they knew more about antibiotics, introducing blood transfusions and improved medication. The social change of higher incomes allows families to have a healthier lifestyle and an improved standard of living, however this does not account in some cases because before the 1950’s wealthy families had high cholesterol and obesity causing them to die young. Although there is an overall decline in deaths and life expectancy has increased there are differences in gender, class and regional differences.

Generally women live longer than men however because of the changes in employment and lifestyles e.g. women being able to work and a woman taking up the habit of smoking this has now narrowed the gap. Also those who live in Scotland and the North have a lower life expectancy than those that live in the South due to weather changes and supply of certain foods. When talking of class, unskilled working class men or routine job working class men are three times more likely you die before the age of 65 whereas men in managerial or professional jobs are more than likely to live beyond that. To conclude overall the trend in birth rates and death rates in the United Kingdom has most definitely decreased since the 1900’s.

The births rates have slowed down due to being a child-centred society, women being able to be free and in control of their own decisions, although this has increased the burden on the working class and the ageing population has risen, society is still functioning. The Death rate has declined because everything has evolved, better technology, better research and better minds which helped to increase the life expectancy and whenever there is an outbreak of some disease/virus doctors and researcher are ‘all hands on deck’ because they have that knowledge and power to do so therefore it does not affect as much people as it would have done before the 1950’s and previous.

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