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Declining Fertility and Demographic Dividend

What influences the demographic dividend?

1. Demographic transition has two components- fertility and mortality transition.

2. Fertility transition plays a decisive role in determining the demographic dividend of any population.

Why is Total Fertility Rate (TFR) important in policymaking? 

1. The total fertility rate (TFR) indicates the average number of children expected to be born to a woman during her reproductive span.

2. The steady decline in the TFR has been the main driver of the slowing down of population growth in India in recent decades.

3. High fertility states have also recorded a sharp decline in the TFR over time.

4. It has declined to 2.2 per woman in 22 major states in 2017.

5. But due to skewed sex ratio, the required replacement level fertility or the effective replacement level fertility is higher than the benchmark of 2.1.

6. Also, there is considerable heterogeneity across states as well as between rural and urban areas with regard to fertility, mortality, age, and structure.

7. Reasons for fall in TFR are increasing mobility, delayed marriage, access to higher education, and greater financial independence of women.

8. These factors have to be taken into considerations while framing policies for the future.

Which are the trends observed?

The Sample Registration System (SRS) 2017 points out the following trends:

1. Though fertility rates fell across all age groups, fertility in the older age groups has risen over time in urban India.

2. In the rural areas, the fertility rates in the higher age groups (mothers aged above 35) have fallen but the fertility of older women has grown in urban areas.

3. The overall trend shows falling fertility rates among women.

4. Education plays a major role with regard to falling female fertility rates.

5. In general, fertility is lower among educated women.

6. In urban areas, fertility rates among women in their 30s are higher among the better educated than the less educated women.

7. Better educated women have been able to delay marriage and childbirth, while access to better healthcare facilities enables women to have children at a later age.

8. TFR of urban India has fallen to 1.7 as of 2017, which is lower than the replacement level.

9. The fertility rates for urban areas of all states, except for Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, are either at the replacement level or below it.

How good is the demographic dividend of India?

1. The population parameters indicate that the demographic transition has not been uniform in India.

2. Though the population growth is showing a declining trend an increase in the share of working-age population points to the advantage of demographic dividend in India.

3. This implies that the growth rate of the working population is higher than the general population.

4. According to the United Nations Population Fund, the demographic dividend is set to close in southern and western parts in five years with an aging population.

5. In some states, the demographic dividend would remain open for 10 to 15 years.

6. In high fertility states of the north, this is yet to open.

7. So, India has the advantage of a longer span of demographic dividend due to differences in the patterns in demographic transition across states.

Where to focus?

1. There should be sufficient investments for basic infrastructure, health, education and skill up-gradation of the workforce to reap benefits of demographic dividend.

2. It is also important to create a sufficient number of suitable jobs to provide employment to the burgeoning workforce.

3. People in the working-age should be gainfully employed with proper education and skills to be productive in the workplace.