India’s rate of population growth is finally declining : Government’s NFHS survey

According to a recent National Family Health Survey (NFHS) from International Institute for Population Sciences, the Fertility Rate is declining in India. The report was released by Indian Union Health Ministry on 24th November.

This is a significant news coming from the second most populous nation on earth with nearly 1.38 Billion people. The rate of growth had slowed from a historic 2%+ to less than 1% in recent times, and seems to have plateaued. In what demographers are calling a “watershed moment,”  the growth is finally set to decline.

Here are five highlights from the report:

1. Fertility and population growth rate is declining in India – According to the NFHS report, India’s national Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has fallen below 2.0 for the first time. The NFHS 2015-16 survey recorded a rate of 2.2, and earlier in 2005-06, it recorded a rate of 2.7. This also means the average number of children born to a woman over her lifetime has dropped “below the replacement level” for the first time; in other words, the population growth is set to decline.

According to the United Nations (UN), in countries with a Total Fertility Rate lower than 2.1, a generation is not producing enough children to replace itself. Such a situation results in an outright reduction in the population of that country.

2. More Indian couples are having “safe” sex – According to the report, the rate of decline in fertility is attributable to Indian couples being “safer” during sexual intercourse. According to NFHS-5 data, the Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) has gone up substantially, from 54% to 67% pan-India. Men and women of reproductive age are using modern contraceptive methods, although the report also highlights that women still bear the family-planning burden.

3. Child marriage is declining – “Child marriage,” was a scourge affecting Indian society when young girls would be married off before they attain 18 years of age. The rate of child marriage has decreased from 26% to 23%. However, 1 in every 4 women in India are still getting married before 18 years of age.

4. Hospitals births increasing – According to the report, rate of hospital births in India increased from 79% to 89% . Home births are often dangerous for the health of the mother and the child.

5. India’s aging population – While India has one of the largest populations of young adults, the trend is shifting. According to the NFHS, the population will not be young by 2036 and the proportion of people under the age of 24 will fall to 34.7%. This has broad implications for policy makers and workforce planning.


  • National Family Health Survey – India Database that strengthen India’s demographic and health policies and programmes
  • Link to National Family Health Survey (NFHS)
  • National Family Health Survey says women outnumber men The Hindu
  • National Family Health Survey: ‘Nearly 50 per cent of deliveries in pvt facilities through C-section’ Indian Express
  • Survey shows 30% women across 14 states, UTs justify men beating their wives – Hindustan Times
  • Alcohol consumption by Women doubles in Odisha: National Family Health Survey – Indian Express

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