Family health

National Family Health Survey says women outnumber men

The fifth edition of the National Family Health Survey has confirmed signs of demographic change in the country.

The fifth edition of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) has confirmed signs of demographic change in India. For the first time since the creation of the NFHS in 1992, the proportion of women exceeds that of men: there are 1,020 women for every 1,000 men. In the last edition of the survey in 2015-2016, there were 991 women for every 1,000 men.

Only the decennial census is considered the official marker of population trends in India and has a wider monitoring program. NFHS surveys are smaller but are conducted at the district level and are a pointer to the future.

National Family Health Survey says women outnumber men

However, the sex ratio at birth for children born in the past five years has only improved from 919 per 1,000 males in 2015-2016 to 929 per 1,000, highlighting that boys, on average, have continued to have a better chance of survival than girls.

Most states and union territories (UTs) had more females than males, according to the NFHS-5. States that had fewer women than men included Gujarat, Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and union territories such as Jammu and Kashmir, Chandigarh , Delhi, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Ladakh.

All of these states and UTs, however, showed improvements in female population increases.

A breakdown by state of the NFHS data also shows that India is on track to stabilize its population, with most states and UTs having a total fertility rate (TFR) below two. A TFR of less than 2.1, or a woman bearing an average of two children in her lifetime, suggests that an existing generation of a people will be exactly replaced. Anything less than two suggests a possible population decline over time. Only six states: Bihar, Meghalaya, Manipur, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh have a TFR above two. Bihar has a TFR of three, which is however an improvement over the NFHS-4’s 3.4. Again, much like the general trend towards feminization, ICF in all states has improved over the past five years.

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India is still on course to be the most populous country in the world with the current projection from the United Nations Population Division predicting that India’s population will peak around 1.6-1.8 billion. from 2040-2050.

A government report last year predicted that India would overtake China as the world’s most populous country around 2031 – nearly a decade later than the United Nations projection of 2022.

A notable exception is Kerala, a state with one of the highest female to male ratios at 1,121 and an improvement from 1,049 recorded in the NFHS-4. However, the TFR in Kerala fell from 1.6 to 1.8. The state also reported a decline in the sex ratio of children born in the last five years. There were 1,047 women per 1,000 men in 2015-2016, which has now fallen to 951 per 1,000 men.

NFHS-5 findings from 22 states and UTs covered by Phase I were released in December 2020 and the others include Arunachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi NCT, Odisha, Puducherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand were made public on Wednesday.

The NFHS-5 survey work was conducted in approximately 6.1 million households in the sample of 707 districts (as of March 2017) in the country; covering 724,115 women and 101,839 men to provide disaggregated estimates down to district level.

State TFR-5 TFR-4 SR-5 SR-4
A 1.3 1.4 963 977
PA 1.7 1.8 1045 1021
assam 1.9 2.2 1012 993
Bihar 3 3.4 1090 1062
J&N 1.8 2.1 827 813
Goa 1.3 1.7 1027 1018
Gujarat 1.9 2 965 950
resume 1.7 1.9 1040 1078
J&K 1.4 2 948 971
Karnataka 1.7 1.8 1034 979
Kerala 1.8 1.6 1121 1049
Lakshadweep 1.4 1.8 1187 1022
Ladakh 1.3 2.3 971 1000
Maharashtra 1.7 1.9 966 952
Meghalaya 2.9 3 1039 1005
Manipur 2.2 2.6 1066 1049
Mizoram 1.9 2.3 1018 1012
Nagaland 1.7 2.7 1007 968
Sikkim 1.1 1.2 990 942
Telangana 1.8 1.8 1049 1007
Tripura 1.7 1.7 1011 998
BM 1.6 1.8 1049 1007
Arunachal 1.82 2.1 997 958
Chattisgarh 1.82 2.2 1015 1019
Haryana 1.9 2.1 926 876
Jharkhand 2.3 2.6 1050 1002
deputy 2 2.3 970 948
Odisha 1.8 2.1 1063 1036
Punjab 1.6 1.6 938 905
Rajasthan 2 2.4 1009 973
NT 1.8 1.7 1088 1033
AT THE TOP 2.4 2.7 1017 995
Uttarakhand 1.9 2.1 1016 1015
Chandīgarh 1.4 1.6 917 934
delhi 1.6 1.8 913 854
Pondicherry 1.5 1.7 1112 1068

TFR is the total fertility rate and SR is the sex ratio. The ‘4’ and ‘5’ refer to NFHS-4 and NFHS-5 respectively.