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EditorialsUp Front 08/11

Up Front 08/11

At a wedding I attended in Ireland recently there was much talk about austerity. The bride and groom, although already a couple for many years, were embarking on a new life together and I suspect many us older guests envisioned a life for them that would be similar to our own: lots of children with all the joy, emotion and tribulations that accompany them. Attending a christening last weekend I couldn’t help wondering how different my own children’s lives might be as the western world tightens it’s belt, and opportunities that have been available to some generations may not be available to others. Although the average family size in the UK is shrinking, there is growing pressure on the planet’s natural resources and with the world’s population due to hit 9 billion by 2050, organisations like the Optimum Population Trust and individuals like David Attenborough are calling for debate on how to curb population growth. The good new for both of them is that the current austerity measures being introduced in countries throughout Europe, may already be changing habits. A research study, ‘Changing Lives and Times’, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) at Cardiff University has explored the impact of the financial crisis on the daily lives and future plans of new fathers, finding that several men were making significant life changes. Following men through their partner’s pregnancy and over the first year of fatherhood, the study found that men appeared to be particularly anxious about money. One new Dad described how he and his wife decided to stick with one child rather than have the three children they originally planned for, because they could not afford to do so in the current financial climate. Good news for those that complain that parents of large families are irresponsible, as some claimed when Mr & Mrs David Beckham announced the birth their fourth child, Harper Seven, recently. Although I suspect there was more of an outcry about the child’s name than the size of the family.

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