Why India’s Population Issue is unique? – UPSC GS1

  • India had about 1.38 billion (138 crore) people in 2020.
  • Studies estimate the country’s population to peak at 1. 5-1. 6 billion somewhere between 2040 and 2048.
  • Every year since 2003 the number of live births has been falling consistently.
  • Fertility rate came down to 2, well below the world average in 2019.
  • It took only 14 years for the fertility rate to fall by 50% (from 3 to 2) in India, whereas in Bangladesh, a similar fall took 17 years.
Reason for these changes:
  • Percentage of women marrying before the age of 18 has fallen by half in the past 15 years.
  • Women participation in key family decisions have shot up from 37% to 89% in the past decade and a half.
  • Urbanisation is another family size suppressor. In rural areas a child is a resource, a free labour to work on farms and tend to livestock. But in a city a child is a liability till adulthood.
  • The higher cost of raising children also prevents middle and upper middle classes from having a big family.
New set of challenges that can emerge due to this declining population trend:
  • Compared to other countries with the same fertility rate, India’s infant mortality rate is higher and life expectancy is lower. That means the coming fall in population could turn into a collapse.
  • India is also home to the highest number of underweight and stunted children.
  • The peak of India’s demographic dividend is already behind it. The prospect of India ageing before prospering to the levels of Western countries is real.
  • It’s this fear that has caused China to abandon its draconian single child policy and encourage its youth to have more kids. India could be in a much worse situation than China as the productivity level in China are much higher than India.
Scroll to Top