The total fertility rate in a specific year is defined as the total number of children that would be born to each woman if she were to live to the end of her child-bearing years. As per the recent National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data, the fertility rate of women has decreased 10% in the last five years to 2.0, which is below replacement level of 2.1.

The reasons for declining TFR are;

  • Women empowerment– increased literacy rate and enhanced participation of women in the public sphere brings autonomy and independence in her decision making.
  • Knowledge and awareness- access to knowledge and understanding about small families through news channels, social media, etc. An increase in the mean age of marriage and use of contraceptives helping population control.
  • Technological Developments- affordable and accessible healthcare ecosystem has increased the lifespan of people. In 1970, the average Indian lived 47 years, but it increased to 70 years in 2020.
  • Govt role– National Population Policy (NPP) in 2000 brought a holistic and a target free approach which helped in the reduction of fertility. Various states follow two child policies for Govt jobs.
  • The Forces of Globalization– culture of single parent households, child adoption, and nuclear families contribute to declining fertility rate.

Fertility rate below replacement rate would result in decrease in population over the years. It will have the following implications for society.

Positive implications-

  • According to World Bank Reports, lower fertility rates have cause and effect relationship economic development. Declining fertility will ensure more participation of women in economic activities, and the economic empowerment in turn would result in further decline of fertility in next generations.
  • Society will move closer to the principle of egalitarian society, where both men and women have equal opportunities in all the spheres of life. Due to reduced dual burden of women of child care.
  • Reduced population will result in decreased pressure on land and natural resources, enabling India to achieve its environmental goals.
  • Lower fertility would ensure healthy food and nutrition to children thus enhancing the human development indicators of education, health and well-being.

Negative implications-

  • Rising social security cost, demographic transition with more dependent old age people on a small working age population may hamper living standards of families.
  • Unexpected and unnatural deaths of the sole bread earner of the family slips into a cycle of poverty as witnessed during the period of COVID-19.
  • Uncontrolled reduction in demographic dividend may hamper economic growth rates of the nation. Japan recorded zero growth rates during the 1990s due to declining working age population.

Declining total fertility with enhanced literacy, increased labor force participation of women coupled with skilling and up-skilling of youth would ensure sustainable development goals by 2030 and help realize the dream of a Developed nation by 2047.


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