In an important revelation which came out during the study conducted by the Centre for Socio-Economic and Environmental Studies in Kochi is that Kerala society is increasingly becoming an ageing society. The share of the young workforce aged 20-34 years, in the working age population has decreased by 11% in 20 years between 1991 to 2011. Census-based population projections indicate that the downward movement is expected to continue in the coming years.
Demographic transition matters a lot in the population composition of a community of people. The below replacement level fertility had been achieved in the Western countries, and in the east and south-east Asian countries, following social changes like late marriages and childbearing, disruption of nuclear families, rising divorce rates etc.
Kerala achieved replacement fertility rate of 2.1 children per woman in 1988 while maintaining life expectancy rate at 75. Total fertility rate declined from four children per woman in 1971 to two children per woman in 1988. The fertility rate is hovering around 1.7 to 1.9 children per woman for over three decades.
In Kerala also, educational advancement, especially among women appears to have impact on the value system favouring more egalitarian gender roles and subsequent changes in the institutions of marriage and child-bearing.
The median age at first marriage among women is 21.5 years and the percentage of women who never married is four percent. There is no significant change in divorce rates. Postponement of parenthood within the marital union through delayed first birth is increasing, although at a slow pace. Institutions of marriage and family still have high relevance in the post-transitional Kerala society as per National Family Health Survey (2015-16).
Total Fertility Rate at or below 1.3 and the resulting rapid ageing or negative population growth several kinds of demographic repercussions. The State needs to recognize this at the earliest to create an environment that can sustain the present total fertility rate
Kerala needs to focus on the challenges posed by an increasingly ageing population. It will be required to draw up long-term strategies to face a situation in which there is a decline in the working population or the young. The decline in the young workforce leads to shortage of labour, especially for physical works as well as semi-skilled works.