Total fertility rate map in South Asia

Interesting subregional trends. I guess I will refamiliarize myself with GIS packages in R at some point and produce something like this:

52 thoughts on “Total fertility rate map in South Asia”

  1. The two Punjabs are yet again striking in their contrast.

    The Afghans, wow. Usually higher TFR is disappointing but when you reach those levels you just have to marvel.

    And that would be great if you could generate maps like that.

    1. “What is it that drives higher fertility in north India?”

      Low female literacy.

      1. Yes, I’m assuming it correlates with educational attainment, formal sector workforce participation and later marriage.

      2. Low female literacy.

        Then why are AP, Andhra, J&K, Karnataka, Punjab in the lower to middle TFR section despite having country leading to mid-pack low literacy rates.

        Fertily-Literacy Map

        Even though this tries to paint a certain picture numbers aren’t aligning across the board in Absolute terms.

        Hence Its not necessary and sufficient base condition across the board. Even something like Infant Mortality Rate doesn’t show direct across the board correlation. General poverty or an Index metric (HDI) aligns to a higher Relative (i.e. less overtly contradictory) degree with TFR.

        I guess I will refamiliarize myself with GIS packages in R at some point and produce something like this:

        There is already a Indian district wise TFR map.

        We need more such visual representations for other metrics to prevent Simpsons Statistical Paradoxes. Indian scale is way too massive to use data like this, it has to as much granular as possible.

        Indian Demographic Dividend staggered dynamic. In a decade’s time a dozen Indian States will have basically ended the statistical phase of their Demographic Dividend.

        1. “Then why are AP, Andhra, J&K, Karnataka, Punjab in the lower to middle TFR section despite having country leading to mid-pack low literacy rates.”

          Punjab and Karnataka have higher literacy rates than almost all states in the groups below them.

          Andhra, I don’t know. Some native might be able to explain. Or if we can find more granular data.

          J&K – might be because it’s a conflict ridden state.

          In any case, the more appropriate metric would be to look at literacy rates among women of child rearing age.

        2. “There is already a Indian district wise TFR map.”

          Looking at Barmer, Jaisalmer (Rajasthan), why are these people fukin like rabbits, in those damn deserts?

          And can Nepal (hopefully) please claim those UP/Bihar border regions rather than Lipulekh,Kalapani.

          1. “Looking at Barmer, Jaisalmer (Rajasthan), why are these people fukin like rabbits, in those damn deserts” — Someone told me that it’s due to migrants/refugees from pakistan but it seems highly doubtful.

            “What is it that drives higher fertility in north India?” — Women are married off young in UP and Bihar. The trend has changed in the urban areas of these states but the rural areas where the bulk of population lives, still see decent proportions of early marriages.

    2. Oppressed, dependent, out of workforce women. Educated, independent women don’t bear as many children.

      South to North, Hindu to Muslim, UC to Dalits the gradient is pretty clear.

      Better off females (almost always) = getting overwhelmed by immigrants / infiltrators / refugees.

    3. Because of less urbanization in these states. Women get married earlier and have more kids because they think having more kids will create more hands to earn money and work. If urbanization is increased it will go down alot.

  2. Would be interested in the difference b/w TFR of Indian and Pakistani Kashmir. Unlike other divided lands (Bengal, Punjab) there no religious or cultural difference b/w the two areas. They are like N-India and S-India of the same region.

    Why such stark contrast.

  3. Wow @ Tamil Nadu :O
    The future of the True Dravidians is in peril!

    Also looks like the NE states barring Tripura are quite fecund

    1. Hoju be crying. The (Aryan) hordes are the gates. Already our spies (Tam-Brahm) have done their job.

    2. Hopefully South India can continue to attract migrants from other parts of the country, as otherwise it will slide into irrelevance given relative populations. But Kerala doesn’t really have the kind of economy that attracts higher skilled people and TN is perceived as a different country / not welcoming. But Karnataka and Telangana I can see attracting lots of migrants for a while.

  4. Some thoughts: The other data point that might be interesting to correlate is sex-ratio at birth. Additionally, traditional paddy-cultivating regions of the coasts have an ethos that values female workforce participation and financial agency. Islam has bumped up the “natural” low TFR of certain malabar districts. Perhaps kashmiris are more like paharis than like punjabi/mirpuris?

    1. “Islam has bumped up the “natural” low TFR of certain malabar districts.”

      Western UP districts having higher TFR than the east is counter-intuitive since you would expect the region to behave more like Haryana/Punjab.
      This is down to higher Muslim population in the area. Some 30% vs around 20% in the rest of the state.

      This also explains the extraordinarily high TFR in north-east Bihar.
      (Kishanganj is one of the few Muslim majority districts in India outside J&K)

      It would be interesting to see a TFR map of India after controlling for this confounding factor.

  5. W. Bengal seems like a big outlier. Anyone know why it has such a low TFR?

  6. Again the highest TFR major state in India is lower than the lowest TFR major province in Pakistan.

  7. I don’t like the color coding on the first map. Kind of exaggerates differences.

  8. I Just Posted it on My reddit and the owner of this photo replied “ This was posted 1 year ago and I am surprised people are still Interested in this.
    And A lot of Comments about Afghanistan not being a part of South Asia!!!

    1. Well when its Eastern neighbor sees itself as part of Middle East/ C-Asia then a case can be made that Afghanistan is not part of S-Asia as well 😛

    2. Afghanistan isn’t a South Asian country. It’s hard to fit into the Middle East, Central Asia, or Bharat.

      But it’s mostly Central Asian region, with connection to Middle East and India.

      Like when India has been ruled or invaded by Pashtuns (like Lodi or Suri), the Afghan rulers have always been called Central Asian rulers of India.

    3. @Harshvardhan

      It’s always difficult to draw cultural boundaries, because there’s always such ambiguity, complexity, and fluidity in matters of cultural differentiation and affinity.

      But at the end of the day, I’d agree that Afghanistan isn’t a part of South Asia.

      ^ If it is, then Iran and Tajikistan are also South Asian nations, and I don’t think many people are willing to take that leap lol.

      Obviously though, Afghanistan and KPK possess a very intimate connection with South Asia, one which predates Islam (and probably predates even the Indo-Aryans; we now have aDNA evidence of linkages between BMAC, the Afghan civilizations, and the IVC).

      But most Afghans and Pakistani Pashtuns are percieved as very strange/”foreign” even among the most peripheral of South Asians (Punjabis and Kashmiris), in ways that they simply aren’t when amongst Iranians or Uzbeks. I say that with such confidence because of my actual experiences IRL; Iranians and Uzbeks (despite being so different from each other) have always construed me as one of them, while Muslim Pakistani Punjabis see me as an other (lol. This sounds heavier than it is; I’ve gotten along great with Punjabis and Muhajirs. I don’t mean “other” in a negative sense. I just mean that they don’t look at me as “Desi”).

      And just looking at the geological angle, Afghanistan and western Pakistan lie on the Eurasian plate. Also the flora and fauna are mostly typical of West Asia.

      ^ So even ignoring the culture, merely holding a geographical perspective puts Afghanistan and most of KPK in West Asia.

      1. I didn’t wanted to highlight the Afghanistan part.
        I highlighted the part that this Post is 1 year or more old and shouldn’t be trusted with surety.
        But you just created a comment on Geography of Afghanistan.
        Just Chill Out Man.

        1. “Just Chill Out Man.”


          I’m sorry tiger, there won’t be any chilling out; the neccessary phone calls have been made. They’re coming for ya.

          You can always run El Duderino, you certainly can… but ya can’t hide

      2. commentator:
        I agree, Afghtanistan is not part of South Asia based on cultural, linguistic, ethnic/genetic makeup and geographic markers. While it is true that the Indian zone has often, and repeatedly extended to Gandhar/Kandahar/Kabul, these areas at least for the past 1000+ years have been the outlands..

        1. @ Hoju

          Geographically speaking, most of Afghanistan is continuous with West Asia.

          Culturally speaking though, the country is probably best characterized (overall) as essentially Central Asian.

          ^ Sure, there are many significant nuances at play with that sort of characterization. But at the end of the day, it’s a sensible approximation.

      3. “Iranians and Uzbeks (despite being so different from each other) have always construed me as one of them”

        I can understand Iranians and Tajiks having similarities with Pushtuns, but doesn’t the different language family i.e. Turkic for Uzbeks account for any differences in world outlook?

        1. @Ronen

          Outside of Afghanistan/northwestern Pakistan, it’s pretty easy to connect with Uzbeks. They like pulao with carrots and raisins, we like pulao with carrots and raisins; they like kebab, we like kebab, Lmao.

          And I look like an Uzbek on the West Eurasian end of the spectrum, and many Uzbeks on the West Eurasian end of the spectrum look like Pashtuns (Uzbeks range from looking straight-up East Asian all the way to Pashtun/Iranian/Tajik).

          Interestingly though, in the “old country” Pashtuns and Uzbeks do not get along. At all. Lots of tension.

          I’ve never met an Uzbek from Afghanistan; but I know many from Uzbekistan.

          1. ” they like kebab, we like kebab, Lmao.”

            WTF I like Kebab too. I now Pashtun.

          2. @Saurav

            “WTF I like Kebab too. I now Pashtun.”

            Welcome to the club!!!

            I’d give you the honorary turban and rifle…. but ya know, we’re talkin’ online interaction here. One day IRL, one day IRL


          3. Yea I think you guys on team raisn-pilau can stick together.

            I like hummus, can I be a honorary Pakistani ?

          4. @Sumit

            “I like hummus, can I be a honorary Pakistani ?”


            Ya know, considering the times we live in, arrangements could’ve been made.

            But before we could even dream of getting the ball rolling, ya messed up, big time; you missed the ball itself.

            I mean, like c’mon dude…. hummus, Pakistan? In what world?

            I could refer you to Palestine or something, if you’re still interested? Maybe Lebanon, if you wanna have some fun?

          5. @Sumit


            In this case, I think Indians sometimes don’t quite know when Americans are joking back in response to a joke.

            If only the words came with pictures of facial expressions, at the time of typing


      4. The presence of Pathans in India leads Indians to include Afghanistan in “South Asia” at times. The CIA factbook where the term originally comes from also includes Afghanistan in it.

        Don’t know what Afghans think about it.

        There are some regions in larger cities like Delhi (especially Lajpat Nagar) that have significant Afghan population.

        Generally speaking, larger cities in India are such a hodge-podge of ethnicities that Afghans do not strike out as too foreign, espeically since they dress conservatively.

        If you were a tall white man/woman wearing Om printed leggings and a sleeveless top that barely covers anything, like most hippy western tourists, then you’d stick out like a sore thumb.

        1. “Don’t know what Afghans think about it.”

          Diaspora Afghans I know don’t like to be classified as a South Asian, kind of like how a North Indian might react if they are told they look South Indian. They think of Indic / desi people as different from themselves.

          Many of them are of course kind and respectful, and given the history, proximity + refugee Afghan diaspora in South Asia (especially Pakistan), many share cultural aspects with Indic / desi people. But they don’t like to be confused for one.

          1. “Diaspora Afghans I know don’t like to be classified as a South Asian, kind of like how a North Indian might react if they are told they look South Indian. ”

            Afghans call Pakistanis Dal khor (Vegetarian-weak), who in turn call N-Indians Dal khor , who in turn think S-Indians are Vegetarian-weak.

        2. “The presence of Pathans in India leads Indians to include Afghanistan in “South Asia” at times’

          There is an interview of Shahid Afridi where he considers Irfan Pathan as a fake Pathan because there are no real Pathans in India.

        3. Afghanistan is a member of SAARC, so it’s pretty clear they officially consider themselves part of South Asia.

          1. @Numinous

            Ahh, so I guess Turkey is a European state? (I’m sure you know about the whole EU-Turkey dynamic)

  9. This data isn’t even credible. The Himachal Pradesh’s Fertility rate of 1.6 and Uttrakhand’s Fertility rate is 1.9
    Can’t you people put some more efforts.

  10. Well in India lot of folks claim Mughals to be “Indian”, so Afghans in that way are closer.

    I would say if Pak-Afghan regions were part of Afghanistan, then this whole debate would not have there. BTW what;s the status of Balochis, are they desis or not?

  11. Didn’t realize so many parts of India were below replacement fertility.

    Large parts of the Islamic world is also below replacement.

    Sub-saharan Africa and a couple of places like Afghanistan are lagging behind, but will catch up soon.

    Once population starts shrinking a lot of the current macro-economic tools and assumptions stop being true. Will be interesting to see how humanity adapts.

    Japan seems to be doing OK so far (aside from asset prices which in many cases have still not fully recovered from the 1980s bubble).

  12. Have not read the above comments.

    What year is this chart? What is the 2020 data (I think birth rates have fallen)?

    Is there granular birth rate data by different groups of people (Bohra 6ers, 6ers, 12ers, Chisti, Qadiri, Shaivas, Vaishnavs, Jaina, Jats, mother tongue, ST, SC, OBC)? Is there district level data? Can we get data by both location and ethnic break down?

    I would love to see data on muslim birth rates by sect and location. For example how much lower are the birth rates of Shia, Sufi, liberal and atheist muslims versus conservative Sunnis by location.

    The change in demographics WITHIN muslims is more important than the demographics BETWEEN muslims and nonmuslims in India.

  13. Pathans have highest population growth in Pakistan. They also contribute to higher fertility rates of punjab, sindh and Islamabad with migration. Its also hard to know if all of it is natural or because of huge afghan refugee migration in last 40 years, many of who have become permanent citizens through forged national identity cards. I guess its bit of both.

    Punjabis and muhajirs seem to be on decline in recent decades.

    Seraikis, sindhis, baloch also have relatively high population growth.

  14. Nobody considered Tribals as one of the reasons for Higher TFR, lol just shows how having some sort of knowledge forces people to miss other important data & historical threads.

    Though not a paper but a media report which shows the case i mentioned –

    India’s Tribal belt –

    Note – Notice the pattern.

    Another difference would be between cities Vs Villages.

    I found a document with Urban Vs Village TFR numbers – {Urban numbers are at just about replacement levels for MP & very close to South Indian Urban TFR}

    The other arguments like women education & less urbanization etc. do denote the symptoms but completely hide real reasons.

    Govt. when achieved Independence was supposed to share a % of the earnings which they mined in tribal regions or the regions tribals inhibited – They broke that promise {reason for tribal insurgencies &}.

    Then there was a policy since almost India’s independence to 1990’s liberalization called “Freight equalisation policy” {}. Most of the Tribal belt regions are rich in minerals & natural resources.

    What govt. did was subsidize the transportation of raw material from these regions & setup industries in boundary regions – Maharashtra, Chennai, Bengal & Punjab etc.So the lack of urbanization & prevalence of ‘backwardness’ in these regions is the out come of policy which govt. maintained for 40-50 yrs.

    Socialism guys – The regions which did not played narrow subregional politics were penalized for their nationalism, now beat that colonizers & subregional nationalists.

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