Describe and Give Reasons for Changes in the Structure of the UK Population Since 1960? Essay

Describe and give reasons for changes in the structure of the UK population since 1960? Changes in the structure of the UKs population since 1970 has been due to many factors, the main influences being immigration, emigration, birth and death rates and total fertility rates. In 2005, the population of the UK reached its highest total ever; 60 million people. In the future, this is predicted to rise, reaching 64 million by 2023 and 67 million by 2031. The total population is constantly changing and this is described as a dynamic system.

Inputs (births and immigration) and out puts (deaths and emigration) vary over time to create either growth or decline in the population. The relative importance of migration to the UKs changing population varied significantly during the twentieth century. During the 1970s, more people emigrated from the UK than immigrated, however this all coincided with a baby boom, so natural increase due to higher birth rates compensated for the loss. This natural increase was responsible for around 98% of the UK’s population growth at the time, while net migration made up for the other 2%.

Between 2001 and 2005, immigration outstripped emigration. During this period of time, net migration was responsible for an extra 182,000 people living in the UK each year; whereas natural increase only added an extra 92,000 people each year. The main reasons for such a large amount of immigration are available job opportunities for people coming into the UK. Migration patterns in and out of the UK reflect the country’s cultural ties with members of the Commonwealth, as well as with other European nations.

Between 2005 and 2021, it is expected that natural changes and net migration will account for similar amounts of the overall population size. More people in the UK are living into old age, a situation that has been given the term a greying of the population. At the same time, the number of births in the UK is in decline. These two trends have been working together over the last 35 years to change the population structure of the UK. In 1971, there were twice as many under 16’s (14. 3 million) as there were people aged over 65 and over (7. 4 million).

By 2005, the number of people in the under 16s age group and the 65 and over was much closer at 11. 6 million under 16s and 9. 6 million 65 and overs. By 2014, it is estimated that the number of people aged 65 and over will exceed those aged under 16 for the first time. There are already 1. 2 million people aged over 85 living in the UK. The UK experienced four baby booms in the twentieth century; the number of births each year in the UK fluctuated greatly during this period. The longest baby boom of the twentieth century occurred during the 1960s, with a peak of 1,014,700 births in 1964.

However, the final years of the twentieth century saw a generally low number of births, with less than 700,000 births each year in 2001 and 2002. Since then, births have slightly increased and projections suggest that the number of births will continue as a relatively stable level at between 695,000 to 724,000 each year. Fertility is another important measure for monitoring population change. Total fertility rate (TFR) is the average number of children who would be born per women if she was to live to the end of her childbearing years and follow natural patterns of fertility.

In 2005, the TFR in the UK was 1. 79. The replacement level needed to maintain population size is 2. 1. In the UK, the TFR fell to a record low in 2001 and 2002. Since then it has gradually climbed back to 1. 79, but the Office for National Statistics cannot predict whether this is the beginning of a sustained rise. 20% of women in the UK do not have children, either through choice or because of infertility. The age at which women in the UK become pregnant for the first time is also becoming later.

The birth rate for women in their twenties is falling, while the birth rate for women in their thirties is rising. This can be due to a number of social changes. These can include, higher number of divorce or separation, meaning that women do not start as family in their twenties with their first partner. Women may also delay starting a family until they are in their thirties so they can pursue a career beforehand. To conclude, there is a visible trend between certain factors and the changes in the UK population.

Net migration is now responsible for around an extra 90,000 people living in the UK each year. This can be due to factors such as increased job opportunities, health care, environment and government policies. A decrease in the number of deaths in the UK now means that the number of people age 65 and over are now nearly equal to the amount of people under 16 living in the UK and this is projected to increase even more. A further decline in birth rates, due to women focusing on their careers more now means that the replacement level to maintain the population for the UK is becoming harder to reach.