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The Canadian Birth Rate has said to have declined in the past 20 years. Discuss this theroy. Upon what reasons has this occurred?

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Introduction

The Canadian Birth Rate has said to have declined in the past 20 years. Discuss this theroy. Upon what reasons has this occurred? Sociologists across Canada, as in most industrialized countries, are concerned with the decline in the birth rate. A century ago, as families immigrated to Canada, maintaining a high birth rate was of primary importance for the growth and development of the country. A high population density was necessary for agriculture and industrial development. Children were used as a source of labour and because many babies did not survive to adulthood it was essential for these settlers to have large families. Throughout the 1900s, however, there has been a demographic transition in Canada. The average Canadian birth rate per 1,000 population was 21.6 in 1940, 27.1 in 1950, 17.5 in 1970 and 15.3 in 1990. (Statistics Canada, Canadian Center, Selected Birth, 1993:P32-33) While the early twentieth century had high birth and death rates, after World War I, birth rates declined. From the end of World War II to the mid-1960s, Canada experienced a 'baby boom' in which a great number of babies were born over a short period of time. Between the years of 1946 and 1964, 76 million children were born. (Barna, 1994: P.264) Since 1970 there has again been a decline in the birth rates. Many people including government officials, are concerned with these statistics. ...read more.

Middle

It is difficult for mothers to return to work after the birth of a child because they are hesitant to leave the baby with someone else and quality child care is expensive and in short supply. Mothers are also reluctant to leave the labour force for several years during child rearing because of the difficulty adjusting to the rapid technological changes at work and the continuing high unemployment (Baker, 1993: P.164). Therefore some couples limit the number of children they raise or choose to be childless in order to maintain the same standard of living. Technologically, new advances allow for safe methods of contraception which allow people to control or limit births. Prior to the development of the birth control pill women would prolong the breast feeding of a child to minimize the risk of becoming pregnant again. In the United States and Canada, laws regulating the birth control pill were challenged by medical professions, lawyers and women's groups which resulted in the federal government legalizing the use of birth control devices. With the modern contraceptive methods available people usually are not delaying marriage but delaying childbearing. Most media concentrates on technology that prevents births. But, the medical society has recently become aware of varied causes for infertility. When some couples delay childbearing, it may be more difficult than anticipated to conceive a child. Infertility may contribute to feeling of guilt, anger, depression and marital disputes. ...read more.

Conclusion

Currently, there appears to be a balance in the Canadian population. Though there is a decrease in birth rates, there is a decrease in mortality rates. We should not have a false sense of security, however, that our population rates are under control. Statistics predict that there will be a large growth in the elderly population which will present society with some challenging problems. To meet these challenges, it appears evident that Canada has to reform pensions, emphasize preventive health care and provide incentives for alternative housing for the elderly so that there will be less demand for special care facilities. There are a number of other issues which will also need to be addressed. In the future, an aging 'baby boom' generation, will become a larger proportion of elderly who could acquire political power to demand improved services and facilities. Ultimately, a critical question raised by declining birth rates is whether it is a cyclical process. When there is a surplus of workers and stronger competition, the standard of living falls and people are hesitant about marriage and childbearing, which seems to be the trend at the present time. But, is society concerned about the economic welfare of our children's future or are we just self-serving as Philippe Aries suggests. (Statistics Canada, Demographic Analysis, Fertility, 1984: P.64) Will society begin to have more children as work opportunities increase or will family size remain similar to present levels? It would be interesting to continue gathering statistical data for the next few decades and observe whether this cyclical trend can be verified. ...read more.

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