The recently released Sample Registration System data has many critical insights on states, and thus form a key input in designing state-specific policies on public health.

Look at the share of children and youth in some key states (Chart 1). While median age in India lies between 20 and 24 (2017), age profiles vary drastically across states. People nearing their 30s are the biggest cohort in Tamil Nadu and Punjab, but children are more than a third of the population in Bihar.

Though India’s total fertility rate (TFR) is nearing replacement rate of 2.1, that for rural Indian women is still high. One reason that explains the slower reduction in TFR is that the age group where family planning peaks is the most populous age cohort in India in current times (Chart 2).

One reason could be the prevalence of giving birth to children at early age of marriage. Chart 3 shows that marital fertility is highest in the age bracket of 15 to 19 for Bihar and Assam. This means that couples where the woman is below 20 tend to have more children than elder couples in these states.

For poorer states, deaths at early age are as ubiquitous as early-age pregnancies. Nearly 20 per cent of deaths are in below the five year mark in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, twice the proportion at the national average (Chart 4).

This is the biggest block in reaching the sustainable development goal of under-five mortality rate of 25 by 2030
(Chart 5).

Education influences family planning like nothing else, and propensity to rear children reduces with education. Chart 6 shows that for women who have completed graduation, total fertility rate is as low as 1.4. If this is imitated at the national level, it would cause a decline in the population.

is a weekly feature. Every Monday, Business Standard guides you through the numbers you need to know to make sense of the headlines: Source: Registrar General of India; Compiled by BS Research Bureau

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