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India’s Stabilising Population: NFHS-5

  • 23 Dec 2020
  • 6 min read

Why in News

Recent data from National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5) shows that India's population is stabilising as the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is on decline.

Key Points

  • Background:
    • During NFHS-3 and 4, conducted between 2005 and 2016, there was a decline in the use of modern methods of contraception (oral pills, condoms, intrauterine devices) across 12 of 22 States and UTs.
      • While, in NFHS-5, 11 of 12 States where there was a slump earlier, saw an increase in their use.
  • NFHS- 5 Data:
    • Total Fertility Rate (TFR): The total fertility rate in a specific year is defined as the total number of children that would be born to each woman if she were to live to the end of her child-bearing years and give birth to children in alignment with the prevailing age-specific fertility rates.
      • The TFR across most Indian states declined in the past half-a-decade, more so among urban women. This implies that India’s population is stabilizing.
      • Sikkim recorded the lowest TFR, with one woman bearing 1.1 children on average. Bihar recorded the highest TFR of 3 children per woman.
      • In 19 of the 22 surveyed states, TFRs were found to be ‘below-replacement level’.
        • Replacement level fertility is the total fertility rate that is the average number of children born per woman at which a population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next, without migration.
        • This rate is roughly 2.1 children per woman for most countries, although it may modestly vary with mortality rates.
    • Use of Contraceptives;
      • Overall Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) has increased substantially in most States/UTs and it is the highest in HP and WB (74%).
  • Implications:
    • The data implies that most States have attained replacement level fertility.
    • NFHS-5 provides evidence of an increase in the use of modern contraceptives in rural and urban areas, an improvement in these demands being met, and a decline in the average number of children borne by a woman.
  • Measures for Population Control:
    • Prime Minister’s Appeal: During his Independence Day Speech in 2019, the Prime Minister appealed to the country that population control was a form of patriotism.
    • Mission Parivar Vikas- The Government has launched Mission Parivar Vikas in 2017 for substantially increasing access to contraceptives and family planning services in146 high fertility districts with TFR of 3 and above in seven high focus states.
    • National Family Planning Indemnity Scheme (NFPIS) : This scheme was launched in the year 2005 under this scheme clients are insured in the eventualities of death, complication and failure following sterilization.
    • Compensation scheme for sterilization acceptors - Under the scheme Ministry of Health and Family Welfare provides compensation for loss of wages to the beneficiary and also to the service provider (& team) for conducting sterilizations from the year 2014.
  • Contradiction :

National Family Health Survey

  • NFHS is a large-scale, multi-round survey conducted in a representative sample of households throughout India.
    • The Phase-I provides data for 22 states/UTs and the fieldwork in the remaining 14 (Phase-II) States/UTs is under progress.
  • All NFHSs have been conducted under the stewardship of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, with the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) Mumbai, serving as the nodal agency.

Way Forward

  • India’s population has already crossed 125 crores and India is expected to surpass the world’s most populous nation-China in the next couple of decades.
  • However, restricted child policy will create a shortage of educated young people needed to carry on India’s technological revolution.
    • The problems like gender imbalance, undocumented children, etc. faced by China (as a result of the one-child policy) might be experienced by India as well.
  • The data in NFHS-5 gives requisite input for strengthening existing programmes and evolving new strategies for policy intervention.
  • The government and authorities should make required changes to the current policies and programs in accordance with the data given by NFHS-5.


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