The fifth edition of the National Family Health Survey demonstrated indications of a demographic shift in India. For the first time since the NFHS began in 1992, the population of women outnumber men: there were 1,020 women per 1,000 men. In the 2015-16 survey, there were 991 women for every 1,000 men.
The NFHS surveys are conducted on a smaller scale, at the district level and are significant indicators for the future. The decadal census is evaluated as the official marker of population trends in India and has a broader surveillance program.
Meanwhile, the sex ratio during birth for children born in the last five years only increased from 919 per 1,000 males in 2015-16 to 929 per 1,000, underscoring that boys, on average, are persistent to have better odds of survival than girls.
Most states and Union Territories had more women than men, the NFHS-5 revealed. States that had lesser women than men included Gujarat, Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, and Union territories such as Jammu & Kashmir, Chandigarh, Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Ladakh. All of these States and UTs, however, revealed improvements in the population increase of women.
A State-wise division of the NFHS data also revealed that India is on its way to controlling its population, with most States and UTs having a Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of less than two. A TFR of less than 2.1, or a woman on average bearing two children over a lifetime, suggests that an existing generation of people will be exactly replaced. Any unit value less than two suggests an eventual decline in population over time. Only six states: Bihar, Meghalaya, Manipur, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh have a TFR above two. Bihar has a TFR of three which, however, is an improvement from the 3.4 of the NFHS-4. Again, much like the broader trend towards feminization, the TFR in all States has improved in the past five years.
India is still known to be the most populous country in the world with the current projection by the United Nations population division predicting that India’s population will peak around 1.6 to 1.8 billion from 2040-2050.
A Government report last year predicted that India would outnumber China as the world’s most populous country by 2031, almost a decade later than the United Nations projection of 2022.
An exception to this is Kerala, a state which has among the highest ratios of women to men at 1,121 and an improvement over 1,049 recorded in the NFHS-4. However, the TFR in Kerala has increased to 1.8 from 1.6. The State has also reported a decline in the sex ratio of children born in the last five years. There are 1,047 females per 1,000 males in 2015-16 that has now decreased to 951 per 1,000 males.
The findings of NFHS-5 from 22 States & UTs covered in Phase-I were proposed in December 2020 and the rest including Arunachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, NCT of Delhi, Odisha, Puducherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand were made public on Wednesday.
The NFHS-5 survey has been conducted with around 6.1 lakh sample households from 707 districts (as of March 2017) of the country; covering 724,115 women and 101,839 men to provide estimates up to district level indicated demographic shift. TFR is the total fertility rate, and SR is the sex ratio. The ‘4’ and ‘5’ refer to NFHS-4 and NFHS-5 respectively.
Source: The Hindu, The Economic Times