Dr Day revealed plans which would create less security and unity between humans, through the planned demise of the concept of ‘family’.
The traditional family structure of a married mother and father, living together with children would become less important in the structure of society. Having large families would no longer be the objective of the family unit, and in some instances the number of children that could be born to a couple or mother would be limited to two at most. Unmarried couples living together would become more commonplace to such an extent that society would accept it as the norm.
The limitation of family sizes has been legislated for in some countries, and other have placed (or proposed) restriction on social benefits for more than a designated number of children.
China has placed restrictions on the number of children which may be born to a couple since 1979.
In China, urban couples are restricted to one child, with exceptions in other circumstances. Additional children are permitted in the case of twins (or other multiples), where the couple lives in a rural area, couples where the mother and father were born as the only child, and ethnic minorities.
The one child policy has been called for by several other countries. In 2009, the Canadian government called for world leaders to consider a world-wide one child policy. In 2012, in Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan said that too many people were having children and said that consideration may be given to legislation and policies aimed at reducing the birth-rate.
In the UK, the Optimum Population Trust called for a two child policy to be introduced to curb what they described as an ‘environmental liability’ as the birth-rate rose significantly in 2007.
The UK government attempted to introduce restrictions on benefit payments that parents would receive. Under the proposed welfare bill the government would restrict the UK’s child benefit to the first two children. At the time of writing there had been no conclusion to the proposals.
In 2013, the UK government introduced legislation to allow three person IVF, and to allow the registration of three parents for children resulting from successful treatment.
‘…divorce made easier and would become more prevalent.’
Most modern cultures in the 21st Century have some form of process for divorce. The concept of couples staying together for their natural lives has become less of an expectation of society, especially in Western society where divorce has become much easier and accepted than it was up until the 1950s and 1960s.
In the UK, divorce was frowned upon, and divorcees faced stigma and prejudice from society – especially if they had children. Many couples stayed together even though their relationship had broken down.
The big change in the UK came in 1969 with the introduction of the Divorce Reform Act, which allowed couples to divorce by mutual agreement after they had been separated for two years, or after five years if only one of them wanted a divorce.
Throughout the US and Europe, getting married became easier, which also resulted in the divorce rate soaring with the reason for divorce often cited as ‘behaviour’ (the official explanation for divorces based on ‘falling out of love’ or ‘growing apart’). According to data from the Office of National Statistics, ‘behaviour’ was the reason in 27% of divorces in the UK, and most divorces (74%) occur between 11 and 20 years of marriage.
According to the US Census Bureau, 41% of first marriages end in divorce, 60% of second marriages, and an astonishing 73% f third marriages. The age range with the highest divorce rate is between 20 and 24 years of age.
‘…common for people not to marry and live together.’
Cohabitation has been on the increase in recent times, with more couples choosing to live together than get married. In the UK, the Office of National Statistics estimate that in 2012 5.9 million people cohabit, a significant increase on the 1996 figure of 2.9 million. Similar statistics from the ‘Center for Disease Control and Prevention’ in the US show a significant increase in the number of cohabiting couples.
Cohabiting couples who have children are less likely to consider getting married than in the 1960s and 1970s.
‘…harder for families to stay together.’
The bonds between family members have slowly been eroded over the last 40 to 50 years in many Western societies. The traditional role of family members looking after each other (especially in times of illness, old age, or severe hardship) has been diluted as relatives move further away from the family hub to study, work, or establish families of their own with partners from other areas and distant countries.
Although it is said that the world is a smaller place than it used to be, with a more efficient and far reaching transport infrastructure and more communications technology, the physical presence of family members is the core of kinship and maintaining the close bonds necessary for the family unit.
Since the mid-1990s, there has been a 50% increase in the number of people aged between 45 and 65 who live alone in the UK. Figures produced by the National Office of Statistics show that in the region of 2.5 million people have no spouse, children, or partner living with them in their home.
In the US, it is estimated that the number of children in broken homes in 1950 was in the region of 12%, by 2000 this figure had jumped to 60%.
These figures do not take into account the number of broken families who still live together because of economic pressures and which create a toxic environment for children. According to the charity Relate, many couples are forced to stay together because they are unable to afford the cost of divorce or accommodation. The family unit becomes dysfunctional and the parents and children will split as soon as they are able.
‘…more men transferred to other locations – more men would have to travel.’
For some, the prime reason for moving away from the traditional family unit is economic. With the closure of traditional employers in areas where families have settled for generations, family members are forced to move where they are able to find employment. This may entail a move to a new city, or even a new country.
When a traditional local employer (such as a factory) is forced to close, the choice for many families is to endure a life of poverty, or for family members to seek employment elsewhere, and this is often the male partner.
In recent times we have seen the economy of some European nations decline to such an extent that large numbers of the population are unemployed.
In 2013, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said that the unemployed of the Eurozone should move to find work. Having implemented extreme restrictions on countries such as Spain and Greece, the economy has effectively crashed and created extremely high unemployment.
The globalisation of the workforce will mean that more families and communities become fragmented, and will find it difficult to maintain traditional bonds when faced with poverty and hardship. Creeping globalisation in many areas of society will result in the near destruction of the traditional family unit.
‘…would make marriage less stable and less desirable to have babies.’
Couples and families facing the prospect of poverty and having to move to other areas or countries are not able to establish themselves on solid foundations. With the ever present prospect of having to move each time there is a change in the work market or economy it makes little sense to take on more responsibility than necessary by having children.
In such an unstable situation, it may happen that the partnership may have to end as each partner seeks employment in different locations from each other.
‘…transport would be easier and less expensive for a while.’
To encourage a mobile workforce, they have to be able to move around the desired zone easily. This means they have to have access to readily available and relatively cheap transport.
Car ownership has increased year on year as motor vehicles have become cheaper to produce and own pro rata.
In the US in 1960, there were around 410 cars owned per thousand population. In 2000 there were around 828 cars owned per thousand population, and the trend has increased by around 12% per year since.
In the UK, car ownership became cheaper and within the range of the average income family. There were 137 cars per 1000 population in 1960, and 515 per thousand in 2002.
Although the cost of car ownership remains within the means of most average income families in the US and the UK, the cost of motoring has risen as the cost of fuel has increased.
Air travel has become cheaper, with companies such as Easyjet and Ryanair offering highly discounted flights to destinations worldwide. As with motoring, the cost of fuel continues to rise which will affect how sustainable cheap air travel will be.
Where once the concept of family was seen as the hub of the community, and families tended to stay within a fairly small area, as travel has become easier and as the family unit has become less stable, so people have been forced into a position of becoming economic nomads. This further results in the bonds between family members and communities becoming weaker, some to the point of no longer existing.