India’s population stabilizes, fertility rate falls below replacement level

The fifth round of the Union Ministry of Health’s National Family Health Survey shows a fertility rate of 1.6 in urban India and 2.1 in rural areas. (Representative image)

India’s total fertility rate fell to 2.0 from 2.2 in 2015-16, according to the latest data from the National Family Health Survey, following a family planning program decades.

Countries with fertility below or below 2.1 children per woman, according to the United Nations population division, report that a single generation does not produce enough children to replace itself. This will eventually lead to an outright drop in population.

The fifth round of the Union Ministry of Health’s National Family Health Survey shows a fertility rate of 1.6 in urban India and 2.1 in rural areas.

The director of the International Institute of Population Sciences, Dr KS James, said Indian express that a total fertility rate of 2 was a sure indicator of the long-term stability of the country’s population. The institute was the designated nodal agency that conducted the investigation.

The number means two parents replace two children, Dr James said, adding that the potential growth rate would be zero in the long run.

One country aspires to a total fertility rate of 2.1 due to improved maternal and child health, said lead researcher Dr James.

The President of the Public Health Foundation of India, Professor K Srinath Reddy, highlighted three key indicators of the declining total fertility rate: a reduced challenge to development, the importance of investing in public health and education , and the need to prioritize environmental protection.

Reddy, one of India’s top public health experts, said Indian express that the country was aiming for a total fertility rate of 2.1. A decrease to 2 means India has met the target of population stabilization.

This means India is still likely to become the most populous country – originally slated for 2024 to 2028 – but this process may be delayed. This means India does not have to worry about a very large population that undermines the development of the country, Reddy said.

The figure indicates that India had stabilized the growth of human resources. The profile of the younger population over the next two to three decades will provide an opportunity to accelerate economic growth, Reddy added.

He said Indian express that a young population, as well as the stabilization of the population, for two to three decades should give India an excellent opportunity to accelerate development – provided the country invests in public health and education with skills.

Reddy also said that India can no longer claim that there was pressure on natural resources due to population growth. If the population stabilizes, there is no excuse for neglecting the environment.

The survey showed five states with a total fertility rate above 2 – Bihar (3), Meghalaya (2.9), Uttar Pradesh (2.4), Jharkhand (2.3) and Manipur (2.2) .

Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan reported the same total fertility rate as the national average. West Bengal and Punjab have a total fertility rate of 1.6.

Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Tripura and Nagaland have a total fertility rate of 1.7, while that of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, Odisha, of Arunachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh is 1.8. Assam, Haryana, Gujarat, Mizoram and Uttarakhand have a total fertility rate of 1.9.

The fourth round of the survey was conducted in 2015-2016. The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday released the fact sheet covering 14 states and Union territories as part of phase II of the investigation. The results of phase I, which covered 22 states and EU territories, were published last December.

The latest data shows significant progress on indicators related to family planning, fertility, age of marriage and women’s empowerment, contributing significantly to the decline in the total fertility rate.

There has been a significant increase in the use of modern contraceptive methods – 56.5% in 2019-21 compared to 47.8% in 2015-16. The share of condoms rose to 9.5% from 5.6% in 2015-16.

The use of female sterilization increased to 38%, compared to 36% in 2015-16. However, the use of injectable contraceptives, introduced for the first time in 2017, remains catastrophic at 0.6%.

Population Foundation of India executive director Poonam Muttreja said the increase in female sterilization shows that the responsibility for family planning lies with women, with men shrugging their shoulders and not taking part in the process.

She said the government should adopt a targeted communication strategy on social and behavioral change to ensure that men also take responsibility for family planning.

The increased use of modern contraceptive methods means that the total unmet need for family planning, a major problem, fell to 9.4% from 12.9% in 2015-16. The figure is less than 10% for all states except Jharkhand (12%), Arunachal Pradesh (13%) and Uttar Pradesh (13%).

There was also a significant improvement in the quality of family planning care, with 62% of users reporting that service providers offered them information about side effects. This figure was 46% in the last survey. The number of women managing their own bank accounts rose to 79%, compared to 53% in the fourth survey.

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