9. Paraphrasing a text
Read the following article and study the graph. Then write about 200 words on the following title: ‘Describe recent changes in English fertility rates and discuss the likely causes’.
THE SHRINKING FAMILY
English Fertility Rates 1955-2000 Source: ONS
Recent figures show that women in England and Wales are having fewer children than ever before. In 2001 the fertility rate, which is the average number of children per woman, fell to 1.64. This is considerably lower than the 2.1 children needed to maintain the population’s level, and means that without immigration the population would decline. Fertility rates peaked in the early 1960s at about 2.8, but since then they have declined considerably. The changes seem to be caused by the tendency of women to start having children later (the average age for the first child is now over 29) and restricting their family size to one or two. As a result, the total number of children is likely to fall from 20 million now to about 11 million in 2011. At the same time, the number of pensioners may exceed the number of children in 2007, leading to a steadily ageing population. A variety of reasons have been suggested for this pattern, which is repeated in most European countries. The contraceptive pill became common in the mid-sixties, but feminism and better opportunities for women’s education and employment must have played a significant part. The cost of housing and bringing up children have also been mentioned as likely factors. There also seem to be a significant number of women who now choose to remain childless in order to pursue a career. This suggests that the idea that work and family life can be successfully combined is being rejected by an increasing proportion of women.