India = Nigeria + Italy in terms of fertility


The map above shows the most recent district level fertility rates in India. It is immediately clear why comparing India to Pakistan and Bangladesh (let alone Nepal, Sri Lanka, or Bhutan) is a major error.

In some of the northern regions of the Hindi-speaking “cow belt” as well as the lightly populated Northeast the total fertility rate is similar to what you find in Nigeria, between 5 and 6 children per woman. For comparison the TFR for Saudi Arabia is 2.75. For Bangladesh it is 2.20 and for Pakistan it is 3.6. In contrast, much of the South, Punjab, and West Bengal have below replacement fertility.

Here is 2017 data by state:

State/UT Fertility rate 2017
Sikkim 1.2
Andaman & Nicobar 1.5
Chandigarh 1.6
Kerala 1.6
Punjab 1.6
Puduchery 1.7
Goa 1.7
Daman & Diu 1.7
Tripura 1.7
Delhi 1.7
Tamil Nadu 1.7
Karnataka 1.8
Andhra Pradesh 1.8
Lakshadweep 1.8
West Bengal 1.8
Telangana 1.8
Maharashtra 1.9
Himachal Pradesh 1.9
Gujarat 2
Jammu and Kashmir 2
Arunachal Pradesh 2.1
Haryana 2.1
Uttarakhand 2.1
Odisha 2.1
Chhattisgarh 2.2
Assam 2.2
 India 2.2
Mizoram 2.3
Dadra Nagar Haveli 2.3
Madhya Pradesh 2.3
Rajasthan 2.4
Manipur 2.6
Jharkhand 2.6
Uttar Pradesh 2.7
Nagaland 2.7
Meghalaya 3
Bihar 3.4

3 thoughts on “India = Nigeria + Italy in terms of fertility”

  1. Any thoughts regarding India’s low birth rate and low population growth? I think India is slowly becoming a normal diverse plural multi ethnic, multi lingual, multi sectarian developed country with normal dysfunction and normal problems.

    It would be amazing if every muslim majority country could get on a similar trajectory customized to their local circumstances.

    Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Morocco, Tunisia and some other muslim majority countries are on a similar trajectory. Sadly most aren’t.

    Even many nonmuslim countries aren’t on the path (such as Venezuela, and many African countries).

  2. Sorry, completely uninformed, but I’d say the immense disparity isn’t a mystery that needs explaining, because it could only be a mystery if we believed that nation states were monolithic cultures in their tendency to have children. I think only the smallest of nation states could maintain such a monoculture, and the map shows India isn’t small enough. I regret that Razib compares parts of India with the means of whole other countries, because their means are probably misleading too.

    If asked to explain why the red areas are where they are, my uninformed guess would be they’re where the land’s principal product is staple food (the Ganges plain), or nothing (the Thar desert). In Africa and elsewhere, the greatest number of children seems to be in food plains and deserts.

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