Family health

With some exceptions, underage marriages down in most states: National Family Health Survey

While the national average for underage marriages has fallen, the rate has increased in Punjab, West Bengal, Manipur, Tripura and Assam, according to the fifth National Family Health Survey (NFHS), conducted between 2019 and 2021.

The latest data – NFHS-5 – was released by Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya in Vadodara, Gujarat on Thursday.

Tripura saw the largest increase in marriages before the legal age of 18 for women, from 33.1% (NHFS-4, conducted 2015-1) to 40.1%, and 16.2% 20.4% in men.

West Bengal, along with Bihar, remains one of the states with the highest underage marriage rate. In Bihar, although it has decreased, this reduction is marginal: from 42.5% (NFHS-4) to 40.8% (NFHS-5) for women, and from 35.3% to 30.5% , respectively, for men.

According to NFHS-5, 23.3% of women surveyed married before reaching the legal age of 18, compared to 26.8% reported in NFHS-4. The early marriage figure for males is 17.7% (NFHS-5) and 20.3% (NFHS-4).

Some of the biggest gains in improving legal marriage have been seen in Chhattisgarh, where child marriages fell from 21.3% to 12.1% among women and from 26.9% to 16.2% at men’s ; Haryana (19.4% to 12.5% ​​for women and 23.9% to 16% for men); Madhya Pradesh (32.4% to 23.1% for women), Rajasthan (35.5% to 25.5% for women, 35.7% to 28.2% for men).

Underage marriages are lowest in J&K, Lakshadweep, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Nagaland, Kerala, Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu, according to NHFS-5.

Teenage pregnancies, according to the survey, fell from 7.9% to 6.8%. According to NFHS-5, working women are more likely to use modern contraception. The data indicates that 66.3% of working women use a modern contraceptive method, compared to 53.4% ​​of non-working women.

The results show that contraceptive use increases in communities and regions that have experienced more socioeconomic progress.

Data shows that “unmet need for family planning methods” is highest in the lowest wealth quintile (11.4%) and lowest in the highest wealth quintile (8.6%) ). The use of modern contraceptives also increases with income, according to the survey, rising from 50.7% of women in the lowest wealth quintile to 58.7% of women in the highest quintile.

The survey reports that knowledge of contraceptive methods is nearly universal in India – over 99% of married women and men aged 15-49 know at least one modern method. But the use of modern contraceptives for family planning is only 56.4%, reveals NFHS-5.

“These data add to the mountain of evidence that proves that development is the best contraceptive,” said Poonam Muttreja, executive director of the Population Foundation of India. “While there is much to celebrate in the NFHS-5 data, our focus should now be on reaching the unreached.”
Domestic violence rose from 31.2% in 2015-16 to 29.3% in 2019-21, the data shows.

The survey reports that knowledge of contraceptive methods is nearly universal in India – over 99% of married women and men aged 15-49 know at least one modern method of contraception. However, the use of modern contraceptives for family planning is only 56.4%, reveals NFHS-5.

Domestic violence fell slightly from 31.2% in 2015-2016 to 29.3% in 2019-21, the data showed.

The total fertility rate, an average number of children per woman, fell from 2.2 (NHFS-4) to 2.0 at the national level. The survey indicates that only five states are above the replacement fertility level of 2.1: Bihar (2.98), Meghalaya (2.91), Uttar Pradesh (2.35), Jharkhand (2.26 ) Manipur (2.17).

Institutional births increased dramatically, from 79% to 89%.

With contributions from Anuradha Mascarenhas in Pune