Big concern! Fertility rate for many Indian communities dips below the replacement rate
The total fertility rate (TFR)—across communities in India, save Hindus and Muslims—has fallen to below the replacement rate, or the rate at which the population gets perfectly replenished from generation to generation without requiring migration. While the country’s TFR is 2.2 as per the latest data, from the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, that for Hindus has fallen from 2.8 in 2004-05 to 2.1 (which is the replacement rate), and that for Muslims has fallen from 3.4 to 2.6. Predictably, the most educated community, the Jains,had the lowest TFR (1.2). Wealth, too, has a negative correlation, with the TFR for the richest quintile being the lowest (1.5) and the highest for the poorest (3.2). India may not have much to be concerned about at the moment, but many countries, facing serious demographic challenges, came up with innovative solutions.
Japan springs to mind every time there is talk of falling fertility. In 2016, the country’s fertility rate reached a 21-year high, of 1.46. The secret? Couples were paid to have babies. Singapore, with private partnership, launched a “National Night” campaign pushing couples to conceive at a time when its fertility had fallen to 0.78. The government even put a cap on one-bedroom apartments that could be built to discourage the singleton lifestyle. In the 1960s, Romania imposed higher taxes on childless people above the age of 25 and made divorce nearly impossible.
But, it seems Spain will walk away with the cake—it has just recently created a ministry to promote reproduction that is headed by a demographic expert. Whether or not this bears fruit, it is still a creative way to look at driving procreation.