IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


27th March, 2024 Social Issues


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  • India has experienced a significant decline in fertility rates over the past few decades. The total fertility rate (TFR) has dropped from nearly 6.2 in 1950 to just under 2 in 2021.


  • Projected Decline: Policymakers anticipate further declines in fertility rates to 1.29 by 2050 and a worrying level of 1.04 by 2100.
  • Global Context: Falling fertility rates are not unique to India but are part of a global trend. The global fertility rate has decreased steadily, dropping nearly 50% in the past 70 years.
  • UN Projections: The United Nations predicts global population growth to reach 10.9 billion by 2100, with TFR converging to near replacement level (2.1).
  • Impact of Aging Population: Declining fertility rates coupled with longer life expectancies pose challenges, including provisions for social security, healthcare for the elderly, and generating employment opportunities for this demographic.

Economic Implications

  • Aging Population: The aging population resulting from lower fertility rates and higher life expectancies poses economic risks, such as escalating healthcare expenses and a shrinking global workforce.
  • Economic Slowdown: Factors such as wealth disparities, gender biases, and social imbalances can contribute to economic slowdowns.

Policy Response

  • Demographic Dividend: India's youthful demographic, known as the demographic dividend, presents economic advantages. However, policymakers need to capitalize on this advantage to prevent India from getting stuck in the middle-income trap.
  • Challenges: Policymakers face challenges in managing social security programs and healthcare infrastructure to address the needs of the growing senior citizen population.

Contributing Factors

  • Health and Lifestyle: Factors like obesity, stress, smoking, and environmental pollution contribute to declining fertility rates.
  • Infertility Cases: Urban areas with high-stress lifestyles and dietary patterns are witnessing a significant proportion of infertility cases, with sedentary employment increasing the risk.
  • Rising Demand for IVF: The rising demand for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatments underscores the growing prevalence of infertility issues, with the IVF market projected to grow substantially.

TFR as per NFHS-5

  • The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) decline in India, as highlighted by the recent National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), indicates significant demographic shifts with various implications and future considerations.

Current TFR and Sex Ratio:

  • TFR Decline: India's TFR has decreased from 2.2 in 2015-16 to 2.0 at the national level, with variations observed between urban (1.6) and rural areas (2.1).
  • Sex Ratio: NFHS-5 reports a sex ratio of 1,020 women per 1,000 men, a notable deviation from previous surveys.
  • TFR Target: Replacement level fertility, set at 2.1, ensures each generation replaces itself. An additional 0.1 child per woman accounts for infant mortality.

Implications of TFR in India:

  • Population Stability: A TFR of 2.0 indicates stable long-term population trends, with two parents replaced by two children.
  • Future Growth: India may not experience population decline for 30-40 years due to a substantial youth population.

Reasons for Fertility Decline:

  • Education: Higher female education levels contribute to fertility decline.
  • Economic Factors: Increased mobility, late marriages, and financial independence influence family planning decisions.
  • Family Planning Programs: Enhanced access to family planning methods and higher contraceptive prevalence rates play a role.

Future Considerations:

  • Population Decline: Lower fertility rates may lead to population decline akin to developed countries.
  • Policy Focus: Attention should shift towards improving employment opportunities, healthcare infrastructure, and social security systems to address the aging population.
  • State-Level Strategies: States with higher fertility rates should prioritize improving education, income levels, and reducing infant mortality.


Q.  The declining fertility rates in India highlight the need for proactive measures to address demographic challenges and ensure sustainable economic growth. Discuss. (250 Words)