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Replacement Level Fertility

Context:

According to a recent study from the Indian government, up to 31 States and Union Territories now have total fertility rates of 2.1 or below, meaning that India has reached replacement level fertility.

  • India has increased the usage of modern contraceptives between 2012 and 2020 by adding more than 1.5 crore new users. The India Family Planning 2030 Vision document was also made public by the government.

Relevance:

GS II- Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Determinants of Population Change:
  2. Implications of High Fertility
  3. About India Family Planning 2030 Vision:
  4. How was the Replacement Level Fertility achieved in India?

Determinants of Population Change:

  • Fertility: The fertility rate refers to the number of live births per 1000 women in the child-bearing age group, usually taken to be 15 to 49 years.
  • Total Fertility Rate: It refers to the total number of live births that a woman would have if she lived through the reproductive age group and had the average number of babies in each segment of this age group as determined by the age-specific fertility rates for that area.
  • “Replacement level fertility” is the total fertility rate—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.
  • Determinants of High Fertility: As per data given by the Niti Aayog for the year 2016, the TFR for Indian women stood at 2.3. This is high and several factors contribute to the same:
    • Religious Ideologies
    • Universality of the institution of marriage.
    • Early marriage and early child-bearing.
    • Preference for sons ingrained in the Indian culture.
    • Lack of right of self-determination with reference to reproduction.
    • High infant and child mortality rates – (unsatisfactory health, low nutritional status and poverty) also contribute to a large family size.
    • Economic, social, cultural as well as religious value of children in the Indian society.
    • Absence of adoption of methods of conception control.

Implications of High Fertility

Apart from contributing in a big way to the population problem of the country, high fertility affects the family and, in turn, society in many ways.

  • Women are tied down to child-bearing and child-rearing for the best years of their productive lives. They are, therefore, denied the opportunity to explore other avenues for self-expression and self-development. This could lead to frustration.
  • Excessive child-bearing affects their health and that of their children. Looking after a large number of children puts a further strain on the slender physical and emotional resources of such women.
  • The burden of providing for a large family sits heavily on the bread-winner of the family. The constant struggle to maintain a subsistence level is exhausting. To escape from the problems of everyday life, men tend to take to drinking. This leads to further deterioration of the economic and emotional well-being of the family.
  • The children, often unwanted, unloved and neglected, are left to their own to make life bearable. The children in large families often have to start working at a very early age to supplement the slender financial resources of the family. They may even indulge in delinquency. Hence they are denied the opportunity to go to school and get educated.
  • The girl child is the worst sufferer in these circumstances. She is often not sent to school at all, or is withdrawn from school at an early age to help her mother in carrying out domestic chores and to look after her younger siblings when the mother is at work. Early marriage pushes her into child-bearing, and the vicious cycle continues.
  • The children, both boys and girls, in a large family are thus often denied the joys of childhood, and are pushed into adult roles at a very early age.

About India Family Planning 2030 Vision:

  • Priorities have been established for combating teenage pregnancy, migration, a lack of access to contraception, and a lack of male engagement in awareness programmes.
  • Despite an increase, there is still a low level of contemporary contraceptive use among married teenagers and young women.
    • The main causes include
      • the stigma associated with obtaining contraceptives while the husband was gone,
      • the absence of contraceptive preparation prior to the husband’s arrival,
      • the impossibility to obtain contraceptives due to the inaccessibility of health facilities.
  • Young married women and adolescent girls expressed a high unmet demand for contraception.
  • More than 20% of women in some regions marry before they reach adulthood.
    • The districts are located in Bihar (17), West Bengal (8), Jharkhand (7), Assam (4) and two each in UP, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
    • The same districts have seen low use of modern contraceptives.
  • The vision also envisioned using the private sector to supply contemporary contraception.
  • 40 percent of condoms and 45 percent of tablets are produced by the private sector. The percentage is 30% for other reversible methods of birth control, such as injectables, and 24% for intrauterine devices (IUCD).

How was the Replacement Level Fertility achieved in India?

  • Indicators for fertility, family planning, age at marriage, and women’s empowerment have all decreased TFR, and the most recent data demonstrate significant success in each of these areas.
  • India has increased the usage of modern contraceptives between 2012 and 2020 by adding more than 1.5 crore new users.
  • Over time, innovative reversible spacing (gaps between children) techniques, wage compensation programmes for sterilisation, and small family norms promotion have also been successful.

-Source: The Hindu


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