- According to the National Family Health Survey data for 2019-21, the country’s population is set to fall.
- The Total Fertility Rate – which is the average number of children born to a woman over her lifetime has dropped to 2 for the first time.
TFR decline in India
- In the 2015-16 survey, the national TFR was 2.2, and before that in the 2005-06 survey it was 2.7.
- Now it has dropped down to 2 – which is below replacement level.
- The replacement level TFR, at which a population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next one, is estimated to be 2.1.
Various reasons for TFR decline
- Behavioural change in people without any coercion to achieve this feat
- Use of modern Contraceptives
- Women Empowerment through increased access to education, labor markets, health services, and contraception
- Choice to defer having children
- Stress on financial resources
- COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated declining fertility rates.
- The burden of care for families had its disproportionate impact on women.
- Started as back as 1951, India’s family planning programme is among the world’s oldest.
- The earliest government communication campaigns sought to promote smaller families. But there was little progress.
- In 1975, when the government declared Emergency, the desperation to control the population took a dark turn due to forced sterilization.
- In 1994, the International Conference on Population Development (ICPD), convened under the auspices of the United Nations.
- The ICPD inspired India’s 2000 National Population Policy.
Importance of a declining TFR
- Population stabilization: A TFR of 2 is clear indicator of a country’s long-term population stability. The TFR of 2.1 is a desirable goal for the country.
- Population no more a liability: This simply suggests that India does not have to worry that a large population is hindering its progress.
- Accelerating Economic Growth: Over the next 2 to 3 decades, younger demographic profiles will provide opportunities for accelerated economic growth.
- Improved healthcare: India’s success in stabilizing population can be largely attributed to increased investment in public healthcare.
TFRs with less than 2.1 children per female suggest that generations are not producing enough offspring to replace themselves and eventually would lead to a declining population.
- Rise in Ageing populations
- Deflation caused by the ageing populations
- Higher dependency ratios
- Increased strain the global workforce and social benefits.
- Loss of productivity and innovation
- Governments must implement targeted social and behavioral change communication strategies to ensure that men are also responsible for family planning.
- The government must provide health and life-skills education at an early age along with ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health services.
- It must absolutely swear off coercive population-control policies for good.