Pew Research Report says Muslims still have the highest fertility rate, followed by Hindus at 2.1. Jains have the lowest fertility rate.
Desk: Every religious group in India, including Muslims, has seen a fall in fertility rates. However, Muslims still have the highest fertility rate. Jains have the lowest fertility rate among religious groups.
In its latest report on religious composition in India, Pew Research Centre said that among Muslims, the fertility rate has come down from 4.4 children per woman in 1992 to 2.6 in 2015.
The report says: “India’s fertility rate has been declining rapidly in recent decades. Today, woman is expected to have 2.2 children in her lifetime, a fertility rate that is higher than rates in many economically advanced countries like the United States (1.6) but much lower than India’s in 1992 or 1950.”
According to the report, every religious group in the country has seen its fertility fall, including the majority Hindu population and Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain minority groups. Among Indian Muslims, for example, the total fertility rate has declined dramatically, from 4.4 children per woman in 1992 to 2.6 children in 2015, the most recent year for which religion data is available from India’s National Family Health Survey.
The report says that Muslims still have the highest fertility rate of 2.6, as per 2015 data, among India’s major religious groups, followed by Hindus at 2.1. Jains have the lowest fertility rate.
It says the general pattern is largely the same as it was in 1992, when Muslims had the highest fertility rate at 4.4, followed by Hindus at 3.3. But the gaps in childbearing between India’s religious groups are generally much smaller than they used to be. For example, while Muslim women were expected to have an average of 1.1 more children than Hindu women in 1992, the gap had shrunk to 0.5 by 2015.
What do these trends mean for India’s religious composition? India’s Muslim population has grown somewhat faster than other religious groups because of fertility differences. But due in part to declining and converging fertility patterns, there have been only modest changes in the overall religious makeup of the population since 1951, when India conducted its first census as an independent nation.
Hindus made up 79.8% of India’s 1.2 billion (120 crore) total inhabitants in the most recent census, conducted in 2011. That is 0.7 percentage points less than in the previous census in 2001, and 4.3 points below the 84.1% recorded in 1951. Meanwhile, the share of Muslims grew from
13.4% in 2001 to 14.2% in 2011 – up by a total of 4.4 percentage points since 1951, when the census found that Muslims comprised 9.8% of India’s population.
Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains, who together make up nearly all of the remaining 6% of the population, were relatively stable in their shares since the 1951 census.