Why Fertility Rate is Higher in India

There are several factors that determine fertility rates. These include Social compulsion to marry, Female sterilization as the dominant form of contraception, and investment in family planning. However, the reasons for a higher fertility rate in India are not as straightforward as they may seem. While the Indian population is nearly 1.4bn – almost a fifth of the world’s total – it is expected to continue to grow over time.

Factors determining fertility rates

The fertility rate in India is based on various factors. These factors include the illiteracy rate, the total fertility rate (TFR), the age of marriage, child mortality, education, and poverty. These factors have been considered while compiling the NFHS-5 data. The country will soon lose its population if the fertility rate is below the replacement capacity.

The study found that age at marriage and age at first conception are important factors in fertility. Educational level of parents and the number of children in the family can also have an impact on fertility rates. The sex preference of women is another factor that may influence the fertility rate. Women who are educated and marry at a young age will likely have fewer children. Lastly, the status of women in a society can have a significant impact on the fertility rate. In India, before Independence, women who produced more children were held in high regard. Some rural Indian communities still hold a high regard for women who produce more children.

Social compulsion of marriage

One factor that contributes to the high fertility rate in India is the social compulsion to marry. In this country, 80 percent of girls marry during their most fertile age, when they are between fifteen and twenty years old. This is higher than the proportion of girls in developed countries. This is partly because children are a family’s financial and social backbone. It’s also partly due to religion. Hindus value sons over daughters, because sons can perform religious rites. Hence, they take risks to get a son to carry on the family legacy. And by increasing their birth rate, parents are able to supplement the family’s income.

The high fertility rate is detrimental to women’s health. It also impacts economic growth and capital investment. Furthermore, it threatens the environment. As a result, there are many campaigns underway to reduce this phenomenon.

Female sterilization as dominant form of contraception

The practice of female sterilization remains prevalent in India. According to reports, a gynecologist may sterilize 40 to 150 women every day in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Health workers in Gujarat also report seeing as many as 250 women sterilized on some days. Human Rights Watch has documented this in interviews with health workers in the two districts.

The emphasis on sterilisation may discourage women from using other methods of contraception. In some parts of India, women use sterilization only once in their lifetime and never use birth control pills or contraceptive devices. This practice has significant health risks. Compared to other methods, it increases women’s risks of complications and death.

Investment in family planning

Investing in family planning is one of the most intelligent moves a government can make, not only to improve the socioeconomic fabric of a society, but also to reap high returns on investments. And, as a bonus, this policy can help improve the health and education of women and children as well.

India’s government has made significant progress towards improving access to family planning. However, the budget is still heavily skewed towards terminal methods, and investments in BCC/IEC remain inadequate. These issues are rooted in deep-seated social norms regarding reproductive health, and strategies must be implemented to alter them.