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India and Population

India has witnessed a population growth from 1028.7 million in 2001 to 1210.2 million in 2011. From 2001 to 2011 the increase in rural population is 90.5 million while for the urban population it is 91.0 million. In 2011, Uttar Pradesh has recorded the highest rural population at 155,111,022 while the lowest rural population is seen in Lakshadweep at 14,121. The urban population figures indicate that Maharashtra has the maximum urban population at 50,827,531 while the minimum is seen in Lakshadweep at 50,308

What is meant by population stabilisation?
Population stabilisation is a stage when the size of the population remains unchanged. It is also called the stage of zero population growth. Global population is said to be stabilizing when births equal deaths. However, in the case of individual countries, movement of people into and outside the country is also taken into account. Country level population stabilisation occurs when births plus in-migration equals deaths plus out-migration.

For population stabilisation, a person must die for every one who is born. But when there are more young couples starting families than older people dying, the population continues to grow. This is called population momentum.

Thus, there is often a gap of a few decades between achieving replacement level fertility (two children per couple) and population stabilisation. India has set itself the goal of attaining replacement levels of fertility by 2010 to achieve the larger goal of population stabilisation by 2045 - a gap of 35 years to account for population momentum

Why is the population increasing so fast even when the average number of children per woman is decreasing?
India continues to add about 18 million people per year because more than 50% of the population is in the reproductive age group. It is this large base of young people which imparts momentum to the growth of population. Also, the number of people entering the reproductive age group increases by the year due to the high birth rate of the previous years.

Population momentum can be checked by delaying marriage and child bearing, and by spacing births.

What are the factors that influence population growth?
Natural increase denotes the difference between the number of births and deaths. The country has seen declining death rates but the birth rates remain high; birth rates are high due to two factors. The first is unwanted and unplanned fertility - children who are born because of lack of poor access to contraceptive services, also known as the "unmet need". The birth of three and above three children accounts for 45% of the 26 million births that take place each year.

Second is the desire for larger families (called "wanted fertility") because of socio-cultural reasons, particularly preference for a male child and high infant mortality. This accounts for 20% of births.

More significantly, the momentum brought in by the young age profile of the population spurs growth. This phenomenon will continue to add large numbers to India's population in the coming decades.


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