Fewer children born each year; child sex ratio worsens

The number of children born every year is slowing rapidly in India, but the slowdown is faster for girl babies than for boy babies, new data from the 2011 Census shows.

While India’s poor sex ratio for children under the age of six is well-known, data released by the office of the Registrar-General of India on Monday gives an indication of the situation at the time of birth. Just under 2.1 crore children were born in 2010, the year before the latest Census was conducted. In the year 2000 in comparison, 1.98 crore children were born. However, the growth in the number of male children born was higher at 5.44 per cent, while the growth in the number of girls born was far lower at 4.69 per cent. The sex ratio at birth as a result was slightly worse in 2011 than it was in 2001.

The numbers also clearly indicate that couples are choosing to restrict the size of their families; nearly half of the children born in 2000 were the third, fourth, fifth and so on in the family. In 2011, just a third of children born in the preceding year were the family’s third, fourth, fifth or so on children. In fact, the absolute number of first and second-borns only increased between 2000 and 2010, while the number of later-born children declined.

The two processes — declining size of families and preference for male children — are going on simultaneously, Dr. P. Arokiasamy, noted demographer and fertility trends expert and Professor at the Mumbai-based International Institute for Population Sciences, told The Hindu. “Fertility is declining faster than expected in India, and when fertility declines, we see an increase in the intensity of preference for male children,” he said. This can be through sex-selective abortion, or the ‘stopping principle’, where families stop having children as soon as they’ve had a boy, Dr. Arokiasamy explained.

And here's the second chart:

In a given year, a child born to a woman under the age of 24 is most likely to be her first child, and one born to a woman aged 25-40 her second child. In 2001 in contrast, a child born to a woman in the age group 30-34 was most likely to be her third child, and one born to a woman aged 35 to 39 was most likely to be her fourth child, the Census numbers show.

The data also shows that just 2 per cent of women under the age of 18 are now married in India. Statistics on marriage released showed that 72 lakh people under the age of 18 were married as of 2011, 70 per cent of them girls.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 11:36:02 PM |

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