Better education of women helped push total fertility rate down | India News

NEW DELHI: As the total fertility rate (TFR) reflects a decline from 5.2 in 1971 to 2.2 in 2018, the Sample Registration System Statistical Report 2018 among various factors highlights how not just age but education levels of women has had a direct impact on fertility.
At the national level, TFR for the women having educational status ‘illiterate’ in 2018 was 3. This is much higher than the ‘literate’ group which has a TFR of 2.1 and has registered a gradual decline of TFR with the increase in the level of education.
TFR indicates the average number of children expected to be born per woman during her entire span of reproductive period. Going by the data a rural woman (having a TFR of 2.4) at the national level would have about one child more than an urban woman (having a TFR of 1.7) on an average. During 2018, Bihar reported the highest TFR (3.2) while Delhi and West Bengal have reported the lowest TFR (1.5). While TFR has seen a significant shift from 1971 to 2018, during 2013-2018, there has been a decline of 0.1 point in TFR at the national level.
Age of women is an extremely important factor affecting fertility levels. It is reported that fertility in all the age groups (reproductive age group of 15-49 years) is higher in rural areas than in urban areas. The fertility reaches the peak in the age group 25-29 and declines thereafter. During the last decade, the fertility declined in the older age groups in rural areas while it increased for the corresponding age groups in urban areas. The decline in fertility is slower in the middle age groups 20-34 for both the areas. At the national level, fertility has declined in all age-groups except in the age-group 30-34.
Drawing a connection between education and TFR, the data shows that among women who were graduates and above, the average TFR was 1.7. For those educated up to class 12 the TFR was 1.8, it was 1.9 for those up to class 10, 2.2 for those who had studied up to middle school and 2.5 for those with primary school level education. The TFR was 2.9 for women who reported below primary level education and 2.5 for those without any formal education.
Given that education has a role to play in empowering women to take decisions, the SRS report draws attention to the fact that at the national level, 13.0% of the female population reported ‘illiterate’ as against 87% in the ‘literate’ category. About 18.9% had studied up to class X, 12.5% up to class XII, and only 9.8% reported education level of graduate and above.

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