Female fertility level declines in Karnataka

Study shows the birth rate drop is more drastic in southern districts

The study conducted by the Population Research Centre at Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC) shows the fertility rate has declined to two children per woman in the State in the past five years, resulting in a faster negative growth in the child and young population in future.

Prof K S James of the Population Research Centre, who was part of the study, said the changes had been rapid both in the northern and southern districts.

“In the last ten years, we have found out that the fertility rates have dropped in both the northern and southern districts, but it has been far more drastic in the southern districts. Overall, the fertility rate has reached a replacement level of two children per woman in Karnataka, while for all India, it is around 2.6 children per woman. Karnataka will have a faster negative growth in the child and young population in the future,” he said.

Compared to the 2001 census, the districts of Mysore, Mandya, Tumkur, Shimoga, Ramanagara, Hassan, Kodagu, Chikmagalur, Uttara Kannada and Bangalore have seen a drastic decline level of fertility of below two children per woman. The earlier levels hovered around two-three for these districts. In districts like Bangalore, the levels have dropped to 1.5 to 1.6 children per woman.

Northern districts saw higher levels averaging at least three children per woman, although even this is lower compared to the 2001 levels when it was four children per woman in districts like Yadgir.

“Of the 30 districts, 21 have already achieved a fertility level of two children or less and a few others are very close to this level, based on the estimates done using the 2011 census data,” James said.

“While the southern part with advanced demographic features will need advanced health care due to changes in the age structure from child to late adult age groups, the northern part needs emphasis on maternal and child-related healthcare,” Prof James advocated. Comparing Karnataka to Kerala, he said one of the reasons for the low fertility levels could perhaps be explained by the fact that cities like Bangalore are more developed.

While no comprehensive analysis has been done for the declining rates, James said there was not enough data from the 2011 census to put a picture together.
“Once we get more data, then we can think of an analysis of the reasons for the drop,” James said.

Migrants’ city
The population growth rate has been rapid in Bangalore during the last decade indicating that the city is attracting a large number of migrants both from within and outside the State. The rate of change in population and literacy has not been significantly different indicating that even though there was a large inflow of migrants, it was unskilled labour. This trend is likely to continue in the future as well, according to the study.

“Typically, such process will lead to movement of people away from the core to the periphery of the city. But that has not taken place significantly in Bangalore. This implies that the periphery of the city also needs to be developed to have a better distribution of the population in the city so that the infrastructure pressure can be reduced,” James noted.

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