- Total births in twentieth century Ireland peaked at 74,064 in 1980 and declined to 48,530 in 1995.
- Of the 60,521 births registered in 2002, about 3,000 were to teenagers. Births outside marriage increased from 959 in 1959 (1.6% of total births) to 18,800 (31.1% of total births) in 2002.
- The fertility rate declined from 3.9 (1971) to 1.9 (2000), and climbed slightly to 2.01 in 2002 - a rate which is still below the long-term replacement level.
- Maternal deaths decreased considerably since 1949 when about 100 mothers per year died in childbirth. The average nowadays is less than one per year.
- Infant mortality has decreased considerably also but 343 infants under the age of one died in 2002, the average being 5.1 per 1,000 born.
- The average age at first marriage increased for females from 24.7 in 1980 to 28.2 in 1999 and for males from 27.1 in 1980 to 30 in 1999.
- Children's allowances were payable to the head of the household since 1944 and payable to the mother since 1974.
- Social welfare allowances for single mothers were introduced in 1974.
- Legal adoption was introduced in 1952. The number of children adopted annually, peaked between 1967 (1,493) and 1975 (1,443), thereafter declining steadily to 317 in 1999. About 1,000 children were adopted from abroad between 1991 and 1999.
- In 1981 all women in employment were entitled to 14 weeks paid maternity leave with the right to return to work.
- Contraception for married couples over 18 was made legally available from 1979 and more widely available from 1985.
- Thousands of women annually sought abortions abroad, especially in England. The complex issue of abortion was put to the Irish people by referendum on three occasions: in 1983, 1992 and 2001. The Constitution was amended in 1983 to declare that the State would acknowledge the equal right to life of the unborn child and the mother. Difficult problems ensued and an amendment put to the people by the government in 2001 was defeated by a narrow margin.
- The Status of Children Act (1987) abolished the status of illegitimacy and provided a court procedure for declarations of parentage and for the use of blood tests in civil proceedings involving questions of parentage.
- A survey in 1996 showed that there were 3,668 children in care of the Health Boards. Three quarters of them were in foster care with relatives or others and 84% were over four years old.
- The problem of violence against women in the home emerged as a public issue in the mid 1970s. Refuges were set up and self-help groups organised.
- Following a referendum in 1996, legislation was introduced to allow married couples to divorce in certain circumstances.
- Select two changes in the Irish family since 1970 which, in your opinion have been the most significant. Give reasons for your choice.
- Identify and discuss any one important change in public opinion regarding the family in the period 1950-1990.
- Interview an older person about the effects of any of the changes mentioned above.
- Write an essay on the effects of the changes mentioned above on women.
- Write an essay on the effects of the changes mentioned above on children.
- Write an essay on the consequences of the changes mentioned above for men.
- Research family statistics in the publications or websites of the Central Statistics Office, the Department of Health and Children or the European Commission.