National Family Health Survey, NFHS, released on Thursday said India’s total fertility rate, TFR, has fallen below the replacement level for the first time in the country’s history.
According to TFR, India’s total fertility rate is the average number of children born to a woman.
The NFHS is the fifth in the series of country-wide surveys conducted by the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with the support of the Indian government and the International Institute for Population Sciences.
The recent data shows India’s TFR at 2.0 compared with 2.2 reported in 2015-2016.
The rate amounts to 1.6 children per woman in urban areas and 2.1 in rural regions.
TFR is above the national average only in five out of India’s 28 states.
Those include Bihar, Meghalaya, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Manipur.
Two states, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have TRF at 2.0.
All other states report a rate below India’s average.
The survey also indicates significant changes in marrying age, family planning and women’s empowerment.
Such changes also contributed to the current decline in India’s TFR.
According to the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, below-replacement fertility leads to a negative population growth rate and thus indicates a population decline in the country.
The UN population statistics show that India’s population growth reached its peak in 1970-1980 and has been slowing down since then.
The country’s population is projected to start shrinking after 2060 when TFR will constantly fall below the replacement level.
India is currently the world’s second-most populous nation with nearly 1.4 billion people, slightly behind China’s 1.44 billion.