Data | Are coercive steps needed to control population while passive methods work?

Uttar Pradesh's fertility rate has reduced from 3.9 to 3 between 2006-08 and 2016-18

Updated - November 27, 2021 04:08 pm IST

Published - July 23, 2021 07:10 pm IST

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

With Uttar Pradesh preparing a draft Bill on population control , there are wide discussions on whether coercive measures help control fertility rate. The move comes at a time when fertility levels are reducing across States. Data show that passive methods like better delivery of contraceptives and education of women bring down fertility levels. Moreover, in a country with a higher preference for a male child, the move could lead to more abortions.

Declining levels

The graph depicts the Total Fertiility Rate (TFR) in 2006-08 (in grey) and 2016-18 (in yellow). TFR is the number of live births divided by the female population in the 15-49 age group. TFR decreased across all States, except Kerala. In general, 2.1 is considered the replacement rate (the rate at which women give birth to enough babies to sustain population levels). Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh include Telangana and Uttarakhand, respectively.


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In all the 20 States with relevant data, fertility levels have dropped significantly in the past decade.

Passive methods work

The first graph plots the TFR (2016-18) against women with >10 years of schooling (NFHS-4). The indicators have a high negative correlation. The second graph plots the TFR against % of women with an un-met need for family planning (women who either wanted to space their next birth or stop childbearing but were not using contraception) in 2015-16. The indicators have a high positive correlation.

TFR and schooling


States with a higher share of women with 10 or more years of schooling also have tower fertility rates.

TFR and unmet need


Son preference

The graph plots the % of men who want more sons than daughters against the share who want the opposite. Except in Goa, where the percentages were equal, in all the other States, a significantly higher share of men want more sons than daughters.


In 28 States/UTs, the share of men who want more sons than daughters is significantly high.

Also read: Data | Only 1 in 4 teachers in India trained to teach online classes

Source: SRS, NFHS-4, NFHS-5

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