The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) fifth edition confirmed evidence of a demographic transition in India. For the first time since the NFHS started in 1992, women outnumbered mens, with 1,020 women for every 1,000 men. In the most recent survey, 991 women were found for every 1,000 males in 2015-16.
Only the decadal census is used as an official marker of population changes in India, and it is accompanied by a more extensive surveillance programme. The NFHS surveys are smaller, but they are performed at the district level and serve as a foreshadowing of what is to come.
However, the sex ratio at birth for infants born in the previous five years has only improved slightly, from 919 per 1,000 males in 2015-16 to 929 per 1,000, indicating that boys continue to have higher survival rates than girls on average.
According to the NFHS-5, there were more women than men in most states and union territories (UTs). 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 had fewer women than males.
However, all of these states and UTs saw a rise in the number of women in their populations.
A breakdown of the NFHS data by state reveals that India is on the verge of population stabilisation, 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 having two children on average during her lifetime, indicates that a person’s current generation will be completely replaced. Any number less than two indicates a population reduction over time. Only six states have a TFR greater than two: Bihar, Meghalaya, Manipur, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh. The TFR for Bihar is three, which is an improvement above the NFHS-4’s 3.4. The TFR in all states has improved in the previous five years, much like the overall trend toward feminisation.
India is still on track to become the world’s most populated nation, with the United Nations Population Division projecting that India’s population would peak at between 1.6 and 1.8 billion people between 2040 and 2050.
According to a government assessment released last year, India would replace China as the world’s most populous nation in 2031, about a decade later than the UN’s forecast of 2022.
Kerala is an exception, having one of the highest female-to-male ratios in the country, at 1,121, up from 1,049 in the National Family Health Survey-4. Kerala’s TFR, on the other hand, has risen to 1.8 from 1.6. According to the state, the sex ratio of children born in the past five years has also decreased. In 2015-16, there were 1,047 females for every 1,000 men; currently, there are 951 females per 1,000 males.
The findings of the NFHS-5 from 22 states and UTs covered in Phase-I were released in December 2020, and the remaining states and UTs, including Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, NCT of Delhi, Odisha, Puducherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand, were released on Wednesday.
The NFHS-5 survey was conducted in around 6.1 lakh sample homes across 707 districts in the nation (as of March 2017), encompassing 724,115 women and 101,839 men, to produce disaggregated estimates up to the district level.
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