What are India’s challenges as its fertility rate falls?

  1. The recent Sample Registration System data of 22 states has revealed that the total Fertility Rate (TFR) for India has declined to 2.2 in 2017 after being stable at 2.3 between 2013 and 2016.
  2. TFR indicates the average number of children expected to be born to a woman during her reproductive span of 15-49 years.
  3. TFR of about 2.1 children per woman is called Replacement-level fertility. This represents the level at which a population can replace itself from one generation to other without growing or declining.
  4. The TFR for rural areas, varies from 1.6 in Delhi and Tamil Nadu to 3.3 in Bihar. For urban areas, the variation is from 1.1 in Himachal Pradesh to 2.4 in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
  5. The 25-29 age is the most fertile, except in Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, where it peaked between 20 and 24. Only in Jammu and Kashmir, the TFR is highest after 30.
  6. The factors that have contributed to declining TFR are: a) Higher education, b) increased mobility, c) late marriage, d) financial independence among women and e) overall prosperity.
  7. India has entered a 37 year period of demographic dividend since 2018. To reap the benefits of demographic dividend, India should invest in the education and health of the workforce and provide employment opportunities to the youth.