According to data released by the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), India’s total fertility rate fell below replacement levels for the first time.
In the latest survey, this rate has dropped to twice, which is lower than the level at which a generation produces enough children to replace itself.
Given that the United Nations has set an alternative fertility rate of 2.1, India’s situation shows that the country’s population is now declining, with more deaths than births.
Among India’s 28 states and 8 federal territories, only five states have a fertility rate higher than 2, which raises serious concerns about the future of the population.
The decline in India’s fertility rate may be related to the significant increase in contraceptive use found in the same survey. Across India, the use of modern contraceptive methods has soared from 54% in 2015-16 to 67% in 2019-21.
Despite concerns about India’s population level, the country’s care for newborns has improved, with child immunization rates rising from 62% to 76% in some regions and as high as 90% in others. Similarly, family planning services in India have improved, with unmet demand falling from 13% to only 9% nationwide.
India is currently the second most populous country in the world, with a population of more than 1.34 billion, second only to China with a population of 1.39 billion.
“The country has been committed to setting the TFR at 2.1. The drop to 2 means that we have achieved the goal of population stability. This means that we may still become the most populous country in the world-expected between 2024 and 2028. Time – but it will be delayed now. This essentially means that we don’t have to worry about a huge population that poses a challenge to our development.” Reddy told India Express.
NFHS is a nationwide study across India that explores many changing factors, including fertility, infant and child mortality, family planning, reproductive health, etc. The data is provided to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India to provide the government with information on health and family welfare issues.
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