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

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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.

Infant Mortality Variations in Space and Time

Efforts to reduce infant mortality rates (IMR) in India appear to have reached a plateau in recent years, while the national population policy has set an ambitious goal of bringing these down to 30 by the year 2010. To achieve this, it is necessary to disaggregate the mortality data to identify groups or regions with high IMR levels and to intensify efforts to reduce mortality among these sections. Only then can a rapid reduction be made in the aggregate mortality levels. However, given wide variations in mortality levels among different states, such analyses should be state-specific. This paper analyses the infant and child mortality data for West Bengal in space through the district-level estimates and in time through the state-level estimates, comparing these with all-India figures. While the performance of the state has been well above the all-India average, mortality levels are high in certain regions and among certain groups. It is necessary to intensify efforts to reduce these through specific micro-planning. Similar state-specific analyses are necessary for other states and will serve useful purpose for design of policy.

Infant and Child Survival in Orissa

Infant/child mortality is not a simple function of the level of economic development, pace of economic growth or material prosperity. Proximate conditions having a direct bearing on infant and child mortality are such that they cannot be influenced through increases in income and purchasing power alone and are outside the market domain. The National Family Health Survey provides rich and variegated data which are useful for studying the early mortality in Orissa and provide a solid empirical foundation for further probing of certain questions such as accessibility and quality of a whole range of public goods and services which have a direct bearing on premature mortality.

Declining Infant and Child Mortality in India

Declining infant and child mortality levels are sure indicators of development. But these may not evenly benefit male and female children especially if the girl children are unable to access the improved health infrastructure and nutritional support. The consequent gender gap in mortality is a good index of discrimination against the girl children. Analysis of time series data on infant and child mortality of major Indian states indicates a more rapid decline in male mortality rates as mortality levels decline. However, many states known for their gender bias do show evidence of the 'substitution effect', i e, more rapid decline in female infant and child mortality rates in the wake of increasing incidence of pre-natal selection. It is argued here, however, that a mere improvement in mortality rates among 'surviving' girl children does not mean an improvement in the quality of their survival.
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