India’s total fertility rate (TFR) has declined from 2.2 children in 2015-16 to 2 children per woman now, the latest edition of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) showed. The TFR is currently below the replacement level of fertility of 2.1 children per woman.
According to the report, the median age at first birth among women aged 25-49 is 21.2 years, and around seven per cent of women aged 15-19 have begun childbearing, which is just a one per cent decline from 2015-16. About one-fourths (23 per cent) of currently married women aged 15-49 want to have another child, the NFHS noted.
The TFR ranges from 1.1 children per woman in Sikkim to 3 children per woman in Bihar. Thirty-one states and union territories, including all the states in the south region, the west region, and the north region have fertility below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman, the NFHS showed.
The TFR has declined noticeably in India over time.
Between 1992-93 and 2019-21, the TFR declined from 3.4 children to 2.0 children. The TFR among women in rural areas has declined from 3.7 children in 1992-93 to 2.1 children in 2019-21.
The corresponding decline among women in urban areas was from 2.7 children in 1992-93 to 1.6 children in 2019-21. In all NFHS surveys, irrespective of place of residence, the fertility rate peaks at age 20-24, after which it declines steadily.
Among the religious groups, the median birth interval is the lowest among Hindus (32.3 months) and the highest among Jains (48.2 months).
Nearly one in four (23 per cent) currently married women aged 15-49 want to have another child. 12 per cent of women want to have a child soon and 10 per cent want to wait at least two years before having another child. Most other women want to limit childbearing: 32 per cent want no more children and 38 per cent are sterilized.
The proportion of currently married women who want no more children increases with age. Only 25 per cent of currently married women aged 15-24 want no more children, compared with 66 per cent aged 25-34 years and 89 per cent aged 35-49.
NFHS aims to provide reliable and comparable data relating to health and family welfare and other emerging trends in India.
The NFHS also indicated that institutional births have increased from 79 per cent to 89 per cent in India. In rural areas, 87 per cent births are being delivered in institutions, while this number is higher for urban areas at 94 per cent.