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World Fertility Day: The Decline of Fertility Rate In India: What Does It Mean?

World Fertility Day is observed on the 2nd of November each year. The day raises much-needed awareness about fertility worldwide through education and dialogue and aims to break down barriers in the context of infertility.

This day is intended to motivate and educate people about issues related to infertility or fertility around the world and encourage them to seek treatment.

About 15 per cent of Indian couples suffer from infertility because of late marriages, stressful lifestyles, obesity, high junk food consumption, smoking, alcoholism, and drug abuse. Infertility is the inability to conceive after a year of trying by a couple with normal sexual relations [1].

The Decline of Fertility Rate In India

The total fertility rate (TFR) is the average number of children born to a woman during her reproductive years (15-49 years). It is a major factor in gauging population growth and demographic stability [2].

  • The latest National Family Health Survey of India released by the Union Health Ministry reports that the total fertility rate declined from 2.2 (reported in 2015-16) to 2.0 at the all-India level [3].
  • In accordance with the Population Division of the United Nations, countries experiencing below replacement capacity (fewer than 2.1 children per woman) indicate that a generation will not produce enough children to replace itself, eventually resulting in a reduction in the population.
  • When the TFR of a country is 2.0, it indicates the long-term stability of the population. For example, it means that in the future, two parents will be replaced by two children.
  • Jammu & Kashmir (29.2) has seen the greatest decline in GFR among the states/UTs, followed by Delhi (28.5), Uttar Pradesh (24), Jharkhand (24) and Rajasthan (23.2). In Maharashtra, GFR has declined by 18.6 per cent over the past 20 years.
  • Currently, the TFR for rural women is 2.2 at the national level, which is higher than that for urban women (1.6) [4].
  • In India, there will not be a reduction in population for another 30-40 years since more than 30 per cent of the population is between the ages of 10 and 30 and is likely to have children during the next two decades [5].
  • Several factors contribute to the current decline in fertility rates in India, including higher education levels among women, increased mobility, late marriages, financial independence, better access to family planning methods/high prevalence of contraceptives, a decline in infant mortality and a decline in neonatal mortality [6].
  • It is believed that the decline in fertility is attributed to a combination of factors, including better contraception initiatives and government health and family welfare programs. However, one of the most important factors is the education of girls and the improvement of their overall health and nutrition [7].

Is Fertility Rate Drop A Positive Development For India?

In a single word, yes. A number of health administrators have often pointed out that with about 25 million babies born every year, no government would be able to build schools and other facilities at such a pace anywhere in the world. So the health administration has been striving to stabilise for many years, and this seems like a possible step towards striving for that.

However, as the report indicates, there will not be a reduction in population for another 30-40 years in India [8].

Women and child health specialists advise the government to continue focusing on the measures to grapple with the increasing population, namely educating girls across the board. Education is one of the single most critical factors, as, with education, the family's overall well-being improves.

Decline of Fertility Rate In India

Furthermore, adults should be educated about family planning and reproductive health and encouraged to adopt these measures.

On A Final Note...

It is important to note that even though the total fertility rate in India has decreased, a reduction in the population is unlikely for another 30-40 years since more than 30 per cent of the population is between the ages of 10 and 30 and will probably bear children during the next two decades.

Story first published: Wednesday, November 2, 2022, 14:50 [IST]
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