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Comment on the factors that affect fertility

Fertility: the number of live births per 1,000 women aged 15-49 in 1 year. It is also the average number of children each woman in a population will bear.

In some areas, for example in LEDC countries (Kenya), children are economic assets. Having more children provides a family with more “hands” or people to work and produce for the family. Therefore, children are seen as “producers” rather than “consumers”. By having more children this means the family have more people to help produce and make money for the family, possibly on the farms helping to grow crops, for example. This gives the family more potential to improve their quality of life where they live as more children leads to more income for the family. This is why women are more likely to have more children, as they are economic assets. This may lead to high fertility rates in this area, as more children are likely to be born for economic purposes.

On the other hand, fertility rates may be affected if children are now economic burdens. This has become the case in MEDC countries, for example Italy, due to industrialization. People have moved into the cities to gain jobs, however in cities there is less space to rear children, as the housing is often smaller and more expensive. The length of time children spend in education also makes them more expensive, as does the cost of childcare. This means that children are now economic burdens in MEDC countries, which leads to women having fewer children. This is likely to lead to lower fertility rates.

The availability of contraception and the culture of women in a society may also affect the fertility rates. In some parts of the world, tradition means that women are expected to have lots of children. Possibly because women in certain societies are only seen as a child bearing function and have no rights to careers and other options. In some areas, women may not have access or any knowledge of safe contraception to cease child bearing. This will lead to more babies being born, as women have no control over how many children they have. An example of this is Vietnam where 92% of women who had two children said they did not wish to have any more children. This shows that access to contraception is a key factor affecting fertility as if women have access to contraception this allows them to plan their family size and control whether they have a child in the first place. Therefore if women have contraception the fertility rate is likely to be lower.

Education for women is a key factor affecting fertility. If women are educated (female literacy) they have the knowledge of birth control but also the skills and opportunities to get a job and start a career. If women are given education opportunities this gives them a chance to do more in life than just be a child bearer. It provides them with the skills they will need for employment and wider choices in life. This means that women pursue other things in life apart from having children and if women have a career they are more likely to have fewer children as they have other priorities. This may lead to a lower fertility rate. If women are more educated with contraception methods then this give women a chance to plan their family and so this may also lead to a lower fertility rate.
On the other hand, in some areas like sub Saharan Africa, women are not commonly educated and most cannot read and write. This therefore means women’s options are limited in what they can do in these areas. They therefore remain seen as merely child bearers. This leads to women more likely to have more children, as other options are limited.

Government/politics

In recent years there have been several cases where countries have tried to influence the rate of population growth by altering the birth/fertility rate. An example of this is the one child policy in China. The government in China has set this in place to try to decrease the fertility rate, as the population is getting too big. The one child policy allows each family to only have one child. This has helped to lower the fertility rate of the country however may lead to problems in the future like large dependency ratios. Some countries have a pro natal policy, which encourages couples to have more children to increase the fertility rate, for example in Russia and Romania. Governments provide incentives for people to have more children like more maternity/paternity leave and free childcare to encourage people to have more children.

Infant mortality rate is also a factor affecting the fertility rate of a country/area. If a country has a high infant mortality rate, this often means that women are likely to have more children, as some are likely to die in infancy. Women need to have more children in LEDC’s, as children are seen as economic assets. Therefore lots of children are needed to help the family to raise income. This means that if women are having more children the fertility rate is likely to be high, as many children will die in infancy due to illness or lack of nutrition. On the other hand if a country has a good health care system and good hygiene levels then children are less likely to die in infancy. This means that women are less likely to have as many children, as the ones they do have are more likely to survive. This leads to a lower fertility rate, which is typical of an MEDC country like the UK.

Social class is also a factor that affects the rate of fertility in an area. Fertility decreases from lower to higher classes. For example, in lower classes, people are not as likely to have a good education and so people may have limited knowledge of contraception and family planning methods. Also, in lower class families, people may not be able to afford these contraception methods. In lower class areas it is often more acceptable to have teen pregnancies as they have seen their parents and family around them doing the same thing. Some young people may not be as likely to gain as well paid job as someone in an upper class as they have grown up thinking that they are not going to achieve much in life due to their backgrounds. This leads to a lack of motivation for young people and so they resort to benefits. People in lower class families may have more children in order to achieve more benefits from the state, which is a financial incentive to have children. Overall this will lead to a higher fertility rate. On the other hand, those in higher class families often have a better education and so these people are more likely to know the various contraception methods. If they have a better education they are in a better position to gain a better job. With a career ahead, people in higher-class families are more likely to have children later in life. They also may have fewer children, as they will want to get back to work. In this case, children are economic burdens. Therefore in higher-class societies, the fertility rates are likely to be lower.…...

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