Lancet projects further fall in India's fertility rate

News Excerpt: 

The projected fall in India’s total fertility rate (TFR) in a recent study by Lancet on global fertility rates.

Key highlights of the study: 

India’s Fertility rate: 

  • India’s TFR, or the average number of children born to a woman, has been seeing a decline over the last century, with the fertility rate falling from 6.18 children per woman in 1950 to a projected 1.29 children per woman by 2050. 
  • India’s TFR was at 1.91 children per woman, below the necessary replacement fertility level of 2.1
  • India’s TFR can further fall to 1.04 children per woman in the year 2100.     
    • India's fertility rate to fall to 1.29 children per woman by 2050

Global Fertility rate : 

  • The study estimates that by 2050, 155 of the 204 countries will be below the replacement level of fertility. 
  • This figure is further expected to rise to 198 countries by the year 2100.
  • “By 2100, the estimated fertility rates will be below the replacement level in more than 95 per cent of the world’s countries and territories but disparities in rates will remain.

Why decline in fertility rates in India?

Several factors contribute to the decline in fertility rates in India:

  • Delay in Marriage and Pregnancy:  The age of marriage is being delayed, leading to a decrease in the average age of first pregnancy. 
    • Women are opting for pregnancy in their mid to late 30s instead of their mid-20s.
  • Increase in Female Literacy and Workforce Participation: Higher levels of education and increased participation of women in the workforce are leading to a shift in priorities.
    • Women are focusing more on their careers and personal aspirations, leading to a decrease in the desire for large families.
  • Urbanization and Busy Lifestyles: Busy lifestyles in urban areas, coupled with high-stress jobs, are causing individuals to reconsider having children altogether. The demands of modern urban living may discourage individuals from starting or expanding their families.
  • Economic Viability: For many families in India, having more children is economically viable. 
    • Rising living costs, education expenses, and the desire for a higher standard of living can deter couples from having more children.
  • Social Changes: There are evolving social norms and values regarding family size and dynamics. Traditional beliefs about large families being necessary for social security or labor force contribution are giving way to smaller family units.

What are the Implications of low fertility for the economy?

  • Aging Population: With a declining fertility rate, India is likely to face an aging population in the future. 
    • This demographic shift can strain public services such as healthcare and pension systems, as there will be fewer working-age individuals to support the elderly population.
  • Labour Force Shortages: A decrease in the number of young people entering the workforce due to lower birth rates can lead to labor force shortages
    • This could impact various sectors of the economy, including manufacturing, agriculture, and services, affecting productivity and economic growth.
  • Economic Productivity: A shrinking workforce resulting from lower fertility rates can potentially hamper economic productivity.
    •  With fewer individuals contributing to the labor force, there may be challenges in sustaining economic growth and development.
  • Pension Systems: A lower birth rate means fewer individuals entering the workforce to support social security and pension systems
    • This could strain government budgets and necessitate reforms to ensure the sustainability of these systems in the face of demographic changes.
  • Policy Reforms: To address the implications of declining fertility rates, policymakers may need to implement reforms aimed at encouraging family formation and supporting working parents. 
    • Measures such as affordable childcare, parental leave policies, and incentives for larger families.


  • Scandinavian nations—like Sweden and Denmark—have much to teach us. 
    • In order to promote gender parity, they finance healthcare, offer inexpensive child care, and launch extensive programs aimed at engaging men.
  • Men would need to shoulder more of the caregiving and home responsibilities if they wanted women to be able to balance professions and parenthood.
  • In addition to social security and pension reforms, economic measures that promote growth and job creation will be crucial for adjusting to and lessening the effects of lower birth rates.

What is TFR?

  • The total fertility rate (TFR) is the average number of children a woman would give birth to during her lifetime if she were to pass through her childbearing years (15-49 years) experiencing the present day age-specific fertility rates.
  • The TFR is usually simply described as the average number of children per woman which makes it an intuitive measure of fertility.


  • The TFR is calculated by adding up all the age-specific fertility rates, multiplying this sum by five (the width of theage-group interval), and then dividing by 1,000. 

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