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National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5
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National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5

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The Total Fertility Rate (TFR), or the average number of children per woman, has declined further from 2.2 reported in 2015-16 to 2.0 at the all-India level, according to the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS) released by the Union Health Ministry.

Findings of the NFHS-5

  • Urban- Rural: The data in NFHS 2019-21, the fifth in the survey series, shows the fertility rate at 1.6 per cent in urban areas and 2.1 in rural India.
  • Bank Accounts: The number of women who have a bank account they operate themselves has increased significantly from 53 per cent in 2015-16 to 79 percent, the data show.
  • Nutrition: Though the gains in childhood nutrition were minimal, women and men (15-49) who had a below normal body mass index (BMI) each dropped roughly four percentage points.
  • Those overweight increased by around 4 percentage points. Abnormal BMIs are linked to an increase in obesity and other non-communicable diseases (NCD).
  • Increase in female sterilization: The uptake of female sterilisation has gone up to 38 per cent against 36 per cent in 2015-16. The data shows that the onus of family planning remains with women.
  • Anaemia Record: India's battle with anaemia also appears to have faltered. The proportion of anaemic children (5-59 months) increased from 58% to 67%. Women aged 15-49 who were anaemic increased from 53% to 57% and men of the same age increased from 29% to 31% between both editions of the NFHS.
  • Stunting: Progress is visible on stunting, which seems to be coming from change happening in big States such as Uttar Pradesh and others. These are outcomes that depend on multiple interventions and take longer to achieve.

Meaning of fertility rate and Replacement rate

  • Total Fertility rate: The total fertility rate in a specific year is defined as the total number of children that would be born to each woman if she were to live to the end of her child-bearing years and give birth to children in alignment with the prevailing age-specific fertility rates. This indicator is measured in children per woman.
  • Replacement level fertility: It is the total fertility rate—the average number of children born per woman—at which a population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next, without migration. This rate is roughly 2.1 children per woman for most countries, although it may modestly vary with mortality rates.
  • Significance of fertility rate: High fertility rate will mean that population is growing faster and vice versa.

What is the significance of below replacement level fertility rate?

  • India’s overall population size will not shrink immediately. The country is experiencing a population momentum as a result of a demographic transition.
  • Even if about 31% of young people in 10 to 24 years age group will produce one or two children per couple, there will still be an absolute increase in total population.
  • TFR of 2 is a “definite indicator” of stability of population in the long term in the country.
  • Three key pointers from the TFR declining to 2 are:
    • A diminished challenge to development,
    • The importance of investing in public health and education with skills, and
    • The need to focus on environmental protection.

 

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