According to National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data, the Muslim community’s fertility rate plunged to 2.3 in 2019-21 from 2.6 in 2015-16. It turns out the total fertility rate (TFR) has declined sharply in the past two years. As per the NFHS survey, the Muslim community has noticed the steepest decrease in the TFR. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s NFHS 5 has yielded intriguing data on India’s population.
All religious communities witnessed a fall in the TFR contributing to a national fertility rate of 2.3 in NFHS 5. The dip is significant because the fertility rate in 1992-93 in NFHS 1 was 4.4. However, the Muslim community has seen the sharpest decline in fertility rate, breaking the myth that ‘Muslims have large families.’
Even though the Muslim community has seen a sharp decline in TFR, it remains the highest amongst the religious groups. The Hindu community has a TFR of 1.94 in NFHS 5 compared to 2.1 in 2015-16 and 2.3 in 1992-93. On the other hand, the fertility rates of Christian (1.88), Sikh (1.61), Jain, and neo-Jain (1.6) communities are relatively lower.
Buddhist and neo-Buddhist communities have the lowest fertility rate of 1.39 among all religious communities. In rural areas, the overall fertility rate has dropped from 3.7 children per woman in 1992-93 to 2.1 children in 2019-21. While in urban areas, the dip in total fertility rate was from 2.7 children in 1992-93 to 1.6 children in 2019-21.
According to Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director of Population Foundation of India, Muslim families have become more conscious of family planning and girl child education. High fertility rates are due to illiteracy, lack of awareness, unemployment, poverty, and religious factors. As per the National Family Health Survey, the number of children per woman depends upon the women’s level of schooling.