The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare today (24 November) released the findings of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2019-21, the fifth such survey since it started. NFHS provides information on population, health and nutrition for India and its states and union territories. Like its predecessor survey of 2015-16, NFHS-5 has also provided district-level estimates for some key indicators.
The survey shows that the total fertility rate (children per woman) has fallen to 2 from 2.2 in 2015-16, which is below the replacement rate of fertility of 2.1 (estimated by the UN population division).
The replacement rate is the level of fertility at which a population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next. Below this, the population is expected to start declining.
The total fertility rate (TFR) for urban areas stands at 1.6 and for rural areas at 2.
What this means is that India’s problem of high growth of population is no longer a big concern, and legislative measures to control population may be counterproductive.
There has been a substantial increase in the use of family planning methods from 53.5 per cent to 66.7 per cent over the last five years. Moreover, the percentage of women currently aged 20-24 years who married before the age of 18 years also decreased from 26.8 per cent to 23.3 per cent. This positive change in reduction in child marriages will also need to be factored in as the government is contemplating raising the minimum marriageable age for women from 18 to 21.
The reduction in TFR can be witnessed in most of the states surveyed. In Arunachal Pradesh, TFR has declined from 2.1 to 1.8, in Chhattisgarh from 2.2 to 1.8, in Haryana from 2.1 to 1.9, in Jharkhand from 2.6 to 2.3, in Madhya Pradesh from 2.3 to 2, in Odisha from 2.1 to 1.8, in Rajasthan 2.4 to 2 which is the biggest decline witnessed among all the surveyed states, in Uttar Pradesh from 2.7 to 2.4, in Uttarakhand from 2.1 to 1.9, in Chandigarh from 1.6 to 1.4, in Delhi from 1.8 to 1.6 and in Puducherry from 1.7 to 1.5.
Only in Punjab, TFR remained stable at 1.6, and Tamil Nadu is the sole exception which witnessed a marginal increase from 1.7 to 1.8.
As one can see, TFR reduction is there across the board, whether it’s a rich state or poor.
While NFHS-5 has retained most indicators from last time, it has included some new topics such as pre-school education, disability, access to a toilet facility, death registration, bathing practices during menstruation, and methods and reasons for abortion.
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.