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Chapter: 11th Economics : Chapter 7 : Indian Economy

Demographic trends in India

Scientific study of the characteristics of population is known as Demography.

Demographic trends in India


Scientific study of the characteristics of population is known as Demography. The various aspects of demographic trends in India are:


·           Size of population


·           Rate of growth


·           Birth and death rates


·           Density of population


·           Sex-ratio


·           Life-expectancy at birth


·           Literacy ratio


a. Size of Population


Over a period of 100 years, India has quadrupled its population size. In terms of, size of population, India ranks 2nd in the world after China. India has only about 2.4% of the world’s geographical area and contributes less than 1.2% of the world’s income, but accommodates about 17.5% of the world’s population. In other words, every 6th person in the world is an Indian. Infact, the combined population of just two states namely, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra is more than the population of United States of America, the third most populous country of the world. Some of the states in India have larger population than many countries in the world.


The negative growth during 1911-21 was due to rapid and frequent occurrence of epidemics like cholera, plague and influenza and also famines. The year 1921 is known as the ‘Year of Great Divide’ for India’s population as population starts increasing.


During 1951, population growth rate has come down from 1.33% to 1.25%. Hence it is known as ‘Year of Small divide’.


In 1961, population of India started increasing at the rate of 1.96% i.e, 2%. Hence 1961 is known as ‘Year of Population Explosion’. In the year 2001, the Population of India crossed one billion (100 crore) mark.


The 2011 census reveals growth of youth population which is described as ‘demographic transition’.


b. Birth rate and death rate


Crude Birth rate: It refers to the number of births per thousand of population.


Crude Death rate: It refers to the number of deaths per thousand of population


Crude birth and death rates of India during various years


Birth rate was 39.9 in 1951; it fell to 21.8 in 2011. Although the birth rate has declined, the decline is not so remarkable. The death rate has declined from 27.4 in 1951 to 7.1 in 2011. However, from the data it is clear that the fall in birth rates is less than that of death rates.


Kerala has the lowest birth rate (14.7) and Uttar Pradesh has the highest birth rate (29. 5). West Bengal has the lowest death rate (6.3) and Orissa (9.2) has the highest. Among States Bihar has the highest decadal (2001- 11) growth rate of population, while Kerala has the lowest growth rate. The four states Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh called BIMARU states have very high population.


c. Density of population


It refers to the average number of persons residing per square kilometre. It represents the man - land ratio. As the total land area remains the same, an increase in population causes density of population to rise.


Density of population = Total population / Land area of the region


Just before Independence, the density of population was less than 100. But after independence, it has increased rapidly from 117 in 1951 to 325 in 2001. According to 2011 census, the present Density of population is 382. Thus, the pressure of population on land has been rising. Kerala, West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have density higher than the India’s average density. Bihar is the most densely populated state in the country with 1,102 persons living per sq.km followed by West Bengal with 880. Arunachal Pradesh has low density of population of only 17 persons.


d. Sex ratio


It refers to the number of females per 1,000 males. It is an important indicator to measure the extent of prevailing equity between males and females at a given point of time.



In India, the sex ratio is more favourable to males than to females. In Kerala, the adult sex ratio is 1084 as in 2011. The recent census (2011) shows that there has been a marginal increase in sex ratio. Haryana has the lowest sex ratio of 877 (2011) among other states, while Kerala provides better status to women as compared to other States with 1084 females per 1000 males


e. Life expectancy at birth


It refers to the mean expectation of life at birth. Life expectancy has improved over the years. Life expectancy is low when death rate is high and / or instances of early death are high. On the other hand, life expectancy is high when death rate is low and / or instances of early death are low.



During 1901 – 11, life expectancy was just 23 years. It increased to 63.5 years in 2011. A considerable fall in death rate is responsible for improvement in the life

expectancy at birth. However the life expectancy in India is very low compared to that of developed countries.


f. Literacy ratio


It refers to the number of literates as a percentage of the total population. In 1951, only one-fourth of the males and one-twelfth of the females were literates. Thus, on an average, only one-sixth of the people of the country were literates. In 2011, 82% of males and 65.5% of females were literates giving an overall literacy rate of 74.04% (2011). When compared to other developed countries and even Sri Lanka this rate is very low.



Kerala has the highest literacy ratio (92%) followed by Goa (82%), Himachal Pradesh (76%), Maharastra (75%) and Tamil Nadu (74%) . Bihar has the lowest literacy ratio (53%) in 2011.



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