Topic 7: Demography
Demography refers to the study of the causes and consequences of changes to the size and structure of a society’s population. There are generally three things which can change the size and structure of a population – birth rates, death rates and migration, and these three things make up the three major sub-topics.
As with marriage and divorce, we break this down into discussing the reasons for the changes and then consider the consequences. A final additional topic here is migration patterns, which we deal with separately.
7.1: Reasons for changes to the Birth Rate
7.2: Reasons for changes to the Death Rate
7.3: The consequences of an Ageing Population
7.4: The reasons for and consequences of changes to patterns of Migration
Key concepts, research studies and case studies you should be able to apply
Total fertility rate
Infant Mortality Rate
Child Mortality Rate
Healthy Life Expectancy
Possible exam style short answer questions
Suggest two reasons for the long term decline in birth rate (4)
Suggest changes in the role of women that may explain why they have fewer children (4)
Suggest three consequences of the decline in the birth rate (6)
Suggest three reasons for the long term decrease in the death rate (6)
Suggest three problems society may face as a result of an ageing population (6)
Suggest three ways in which the elderly might be represented in stereotypical ways (6)
Suggest three ways in which society might respond to the challenges of an ageing population (6)
Suggest three pull factors which might attract people to immigrate into a particular country (6)
Suggest two push factors which might explain patterns of migration (4)
Identify two changes in the patterns of child-bearing over the last thirty years (4)
Possible Essay Questions – You should plan these
Examine the reasons for, and the effects of, changes in family size over the past 100 years or so (24) (January 2012)
Using material from item B and elsewhere assess the view that an ageing Population creates problems for society (24) (June 2014)
Trends in migration
- From 1900 to the Second World War the largest immigrant group to the UK were Irish, mainly for economic reasons, followed by Eastern and Central Europian Jews, who were often fleeing from persecution.
- Before the 1950s very few immigrants were non-white.
- By contrast, during the 1950s, black immigrants from the Caribbean begain to arrice in the UK, followed during the 1960s and 70s by South-Asian immigratnts from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
- Since 2001 the main sources of immigration to the UK have been as follows:
15% UK citizens returning home-ownership
30% from the European Uniion (mainly Polish)
30% from New Commonwealth countries such as india
To what extent is migration responsible for UK population growth?
- In short, it’s not all about increased immigration, it’s more complex!
- For most of the 20th century, the growth of the UK population was the result of natural increase (more births than deaths). Until the 1980s the numbers of people emigrating was greater than the number of people immigrating
- More recently, however, and especially since the turn of the Millennium (around the year 2000), there has been an increase in net migration, reaching a peak in 2011 of just over 250, 000. However, this recent increase in net migration is mainly due to the decrease in emmigration, rather than an increase in immigration.
- Finally, there has been a mini baby boom in the UK since the year 2000 which is responsible for about a third of the increase in recent population growth. However,
Explaining the reasons for immigration to the UK
In order to explain immigration, you have to look at both push and pull factors.
- Push factors are things llike escaping poverty, unemployment or persecution.
- Pull factors include things like better opportunities for jobs, study, a higher shtandard of living, more political and religious freedom and joining relatives.
The main pull factors to the UK in recent years have been:
- To study at university (and also resulting in short term immigration only)
- For employment – NB historically this is the major reason, and yes this does explain Polish immigration to a large extent but it’s also worth noting that many early migrants from the Caribbean and South-Asia were recruited by the British government to fill labour shortages in the UK – so quite literally pulled to the UK.
- To be with family members.
- The most significant push factor has been to seek asylum from Persecution. The most significant recent wave of this type was when 30 000 East African Asians escaped racist persecution by Iid Amin in Uganda in the 1970s. More recently Britain has accepted thousands of refugees fleeing persecution from several countries.
- Another significant push factor is the high levels of unemployment in some southern and eastern European countries – Spain for example has youth unemployment of around 50%.
Explaining the reasons for emmigration from the UK
Historically the UK has been a net exporter of people. Two of the main reasons for emmigration include:
- To take advantage of better employment opportunities
- To have a higher standard of living – To benefit from the lower cost of living abroad in retirement.
- If we go back into long term history, we could even add ‘colonial conquest’ to list – much early emigration was linked to the British Empire’s desire to control resources in other parts of the world.
The consequences of immigration for the United Kingdom