much fewer little indians


Unnoticed, astonishing change is overtaking India. The population in 13 states has begun to shrink!

To keep the population stable a country must average 2.1 births per woman (Total Fertility Rate or TFR). According to new official data all-India TFR has slipped to 2.2 – the population is barely growing. Numbers for states vary.

– The lowest birth rate, 1.5, is in Delhi, same as that in Switzerland

– It is 1.6 in WB, TN, Punjab, Andhra, Himachal, J&K – this matches fertility in Germany

– It is 1.7 in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana – similar to Norway, China

– It’s 1.9 in Odisha, Uttarakhand – like UK, US, Russia, Australia, France

At the other end is Bihar with a rate of 3.2 (Lesotho, Egypt) and UP at 3.0 (Algeria, Kyrgyzstan)

As the cliche goes, India is many countries in one, and this has never been more true.

This has many implications, the first of which is that the shortage of labour in the low-fertility states will accelerate leading to even greater migration from the North. The other is for the thousands of private schools which sprang up when Indians had 2-3 children. Their funnel will begin drying up and within the decade they will be competing fiercely for students. Expect them to advertise as universities do.

What could be the other implications? Do share.

About the author

Sreekant Khandekar

A serial media entrepreneur, I started professional life as a news journalist. Am a voracious reader with a deep interest in societal change.
I was the founding editor of A&M, India’s first national publication for advertising, marketing and media. It spawned coverage of this space in all publications. Also co-founded afaqs!, The Mobile Indian and Kulzy.

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