What does NFHS-5 say about the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in India?
- Total Fertility Rate (TFR): India’s TFR has declined from 2.2 in 2015-16 to 2.0 in 2019-21.
- The TFR is the average number of children born to a woman in her lifetime. TFR of 2.1 is considered the replacement level fertility rate at which population stability is achieved.
- Regional Variations in TFR: There are wide inter-regional variations with five states namely Bihar (2.98), Meghalaya (2.91), Uttar Pradesh (2.35), Jharkhand (2.26) and Manipur (2.17) still not achieving a replacement level of fertility of 2.1.
- Religion wise TFR: All religious communities have shown a decline in fertility. But the fall has been sharpest in the Muslim community from 4.4 in NFHS 1(1992-93) to 2.3 in NFHS 5(2019-2021)
Reason for Fertility gap between Communities:
The fertility gap between communities is narrowing. But high fertility is mostly a result of non-religious factors:
- Delivery of services: The figures would have been even better if all those who have been made aware of the benefits of family planning had received the services they desire.
- Male attitude towards family planning: They tend to put the onus for birth control on women. As many as 35 per cent men believe that using contraceptives is a woman’s responsibility.
- Acceptance of family planning: Muslim acceptance of family planning has continued through the five surveys spread over three decades at a rate faster than all other communities.
- Education: Women who have not attended school have 2.8 TFR as against 1.8 for those who have completed class XII.
- Poverty: Similar gap of figure one is visible in the context of poverty with the poorest segment having higher TFR than the richest.
The time has come to leave politics behind and work together for achieving the goals set by National Population Policy 2000. Instead of misleading narratives, we need to address the real determinants of fertility behaviour – literacy, income generation and improvement of health and family planning services.
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