ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Causes of Fertility Decline in India and Bangladesh

Conventional approaches to studies on fertility decline have long assumed the primacy of the household as the prime decision-maker. Aspects of the household such as its economic standard of living, social standing, exposure to mass media, work status were some of the influential factors at work on a couple's decision on their number of children. However, individual and household level factors have been unable in several instances to explain the full course of fertility transition seen in some Indian states and Bangladesh, where in some regions fertility transition cuts across socio-economic and cultural boundaries.Gaps in understanding such trends have been as this paper suggests due to the conventional emphasis on household level variables. It argues instead for the need to look at the influence the community plays in south Asia and to understand the levels of interaction that exist at household level and at the community level.

India's Family Planning Programme: An Unpleasant Essay

This paper takes a fresh critical look at the evolution of India's family planning programme (FPP) and at its performance and failings. It addresses India's apparently contradictory position of having a pioneering role in the global population control movement and also being branded as a country of 'demographic inertia'. This puzzle is in large part due to a deep contradiction and confusion that has continued from the very beginning to inflict the policy-makers and political leadership, especially about the potential of FPP per se in reducing fertility. A tension between the felt urgency of population control and a stubborn scepticism about the effectiveness of a voluntary FPP in the context of a slow socio-economic transformation, has fed into further confusions and chaos relating to the choice of policy instruments and programme strategy. This is brought into sharper focus by the success story of Bangladesh's family planning programme. The most prominent deficiencies and mistakes of India's family planning programme are, it is argued, related largely to a typical bureaucratic (and perhaps political too) predilections, hazy perceptions about effective strategy, and relatedly a chronic mismatch between expressions of priority and actual fund allocation to FPP, which were confounded by a distinct lack of openness (until very recently) towards the experience and expertise of the international community.

District Level Estimates of Fertility from India's 2001 Census

Over the last few decades, both fertility and mortality rates have been falling, but the decline of mortality was strong enough to offset the fall in fertility rates. The 2001 Census, however, gives a clear indication that India is passing through the last phase of fertility transition, moving towards moderate to low fertility. Fertility declines have not, however, been uniform across the country and the differential rates are mainly responsible for the differentials in population growth rates across states and union territories.
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