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Changes in the Australian Family

Uploaded by mishmish on Apr 10, 2002

Through interpreting the information in the table below, construct an argument that accounts for the trends in marriage and fertility rates. Give alternative explanations for changes in family structure.

Support your argument with information from the table and other evidence form you course.

Selected Family Trends in Australia Over Three Decades






 Early 1970sLate 1990s
Rate of cohabitation prior to marriage15%60%
Median age at first marriage (women/men)21/23.426/28
Total fertility rate2.41.75
Percentage of children born outside marriage10%26%
Median age of mother at first child24 years29 years

(Source: ABS, Various Years)

The family is a remarkably significant social unit. It is defined a group of individuals, related by blood, marriage, adoption or cohabitation (AIFS, 2001). In all known societies the family has the function of regulating sexual behaviour and reproduction, of socialization, of protecting children and the elderly, and of providing its members with emotional support, health and well being (Edgar et al., 1993).
Over the last few decades, family formation patterns have changed considerably in Australia. Contemporary family sociology has identified that family practices are also changing rapidly. Massive demographic change has signaled significant changes in family-form with family-households now considerably smaller. Moreover, there is evidence that the norms governing family life are also undergoing change, from being primarily obligational to negotiational. Changes in family networks and changes in the norms governing family life have considerable implications for the Australian family as a unit.
The table entitled, “Selected Family Trends in Australia Over Three Decades”, taken from the Australian Bureau of Statistics in various tears, provides statistics relevant to these changes in the Australian family over the allocated period. In interpreting the table, it van be acknowledged that the figured have increased or decreased dramatically over the given thirty-year period.
Fertility is one of the components of population growth, as changes in fertility impact on both the size of the population and its structure. Declining fertility leads ultimately to an ageing population, which has policy implications for income support and the provision of health and community support services.
Today women are starting childbearing later in life and are having fewer children than ever before. Throughout this century, the crude birth rate has been declining although there have been fluctuations. As can be seen in the table, the birthrate has dropped from 2.4 children per woman in the early 1970s to only 1.75 children in the late 1990s. This 65% decrease...

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Uploaded by:   mishmish

Date:   04/10/2002

Category:   Social Issues

Length:   13 pages (2,968 words)

Views:   1485

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