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World’s second-largest population starts to shrink — Analysis

India’s total fertility rate has dropped below the replacement level for the first time, according to data released by the National Family Health Survey (NFHS).

According to the most recent survey the rate of births has dropped to just two, which is less than the amount at which one generation can produce enough children for a new generation.

Given the United Nations sets the replacement fertility rate at 2.1, India’s situation indicates that the country’s population is now on the decline, with deaths outpacing births.

Out of India’s 28 states and eight union territories, only five states have a fertility rate above two, raising serious concerns about the population’s future.

The decline in India’s fertility rate could be linked to the significant increase in contraceptive use that was identified in the same survey. The use of modern contraceptives has increased from 54% to 67% across India in 2015-16, to 67% by 2019-21.

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Despite the concern about India’s population levels, care for newborn babies has improved in the country, with immunization drives for children rising from 62% to 76% in some parts, and even up to 90% in others. The country also saw an improvement in family planning services, with the unmet needs falling from 13% to 9% across the board.

India is currently the second most populated country in the world, with more than 1.34 billion citizens, just trailing China’s 1.39 billion residents.

“The country has been aiming for a TFR of 2.1. If the TFR falls to 2, it means that we’ve achieved our goal for population stabilisation. This means we will possibly still become the most populous country in the world – it was expected somewhere between 2024-2028 – but it will now be delayed. It essentially means that we need not worry about a very large population being a challenge to our development,”Reddy spoke to the Indian Express.

The NFHS, a national study that covers India, examines a variety of factors including fertility, child and infant mortality, family planning and reproductive health. The data is provided to India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to provide the government with information on health and family welfare issues.

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