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

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    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 
    [Q]
    Why fertility went down across the globe ?What falling total fertility rate will mean for India?