India’s Fall in Fertility Rate may be a Boon in Disguise


    Syllabus: GS 1/Population and Associated Issues /GS 3/Economy 

    • Recent study by Lancet on global fertility rates suggests that India’s TFR  has been seeing a decline over the last century.
    Do you know ?
    – The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is a standard demographic indicator used internationally to estimate the average number of children that a woman would have over her childbearing years
    • The total fertility rate (TFR) for India is projected to go down to 1.29 by 2051 from 6.18 children per woman in 1950.
      • This estimate is based on a complex demographic modelling, done for 204 countries as part of the global burden of disease study. 
      • The decline is uneven across states and it will take a decade before all states, especially large ones like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand, achieve the replacement level fertility, which, in the long run, would ensure stabilisation of population
    • The projection by the UN Population Division is that India will have a population of close to 1.7 billion by 2065 before it starts declining.
    • Several factors have jointly triggered a demographic transition in India, the rapid pace of economic development, particularly since the early years of the present century. 
    • Lower infant and child mortality rates reduce the need to have a large family for old-age support, backed by the rise in women’s education and work participation rates and the increasing usage of modern contraception methods. 
    •  Improvement in housing conditions and the old-age security system are the other contributing factors.
    • Various factors, including obesity, stress, smoking, and environmental pollution, contribute to the declining fertility rates in India
    • Positives : The first impact of the rapid decline in TFR is a fall in the dependency rate and a larger share of working adults in the population, leading to an overall surplus income which can accelerate economic growth and lead to positive intergenerational transfers.
      • The demographic transition will have a positive impact on several states in the coming years through an increase in labour productivity
        •  The decline in population growth would increase the amount of capital resources and infrastructure available in per capita terms.
        • The reduction in fertility would permit the relocation of resources for the education and skill development of children rather than expanding the coverage for achieving universalisation.
    • Negatives:  It will subsequently result in a larger share of the elderly dependent population, as is noted in China, Japan and several European countries.
      •  The dependency ratio, taking the young and the old as a fraction of the percentage of the working-age population, is projected to go up from 13.8 in 2011 to 23 in 2036 for India.
      • It can trigger potential social imbalances due to gender preferences in the country. 
      • Emerging population issues have serious implications for policy, particularly for skill development for women and other underprivileged groups.
    •  Economic policies that stimulate growth and job creation, alongside social security and pension reforms are essential in adapting to and mitigating the impacts of declining fertility rates.
    • With an ageing population, which will have to be supported in the coming decades by a shrinking workforce, it becomes imperative that India’s economy grows at a strong pace consistently over decades.
      • There is also a need to generate employment opportunities that effectively utilize the skills of this demographic.
    • Skill development can ensure there is no dearth of labour in the modern growing sectors. 
    Mains Practise Question 
    Why fertility went down across the globe ?What falling total fertility rate will mean for India?