More than half of the children in the age bracket of zero to six years are in five states of India — UP, Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, also the most populous states.
In a decade between the census of 2001 and 2011, the number of children in these states, except Bihar, has fallen the most leading to an overall decline of five million in the population of children in this age group.
The number of children in UP, Rajasthan and MP had shown a low increase between 1991 and 2001. The 2011 census confirmed the reversal of the trend.
Despite the positive, UP still has maximum children with 29.7 million followed by Bihar (18.6 million), Maharashtra (12.8 million), Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan (10.5 million each). These states have 52 % of India’s children aged less than six years.
The population of children has increased in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Jharkhand and J&K.
On a positive note, the growth of child population in Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh has slowed. “It may perhaps be reasonable to except that if these states also follow a pattern similar to that of other special focus states such as UP, it may eventually result in a further fall in overall population growth,” the census report said.
The proportion of children below six years of age in the total population was 13.1% while the corresponding figure in 2001 was 15.9%. There has been a decline in proportion of child population to overall population in all the states, except J&K, the report said.
The biggest decline in percentage of children in the age group of zero to six years to total population has been in Sikkim, followed by UP, Arunachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.
The highest proportion was still in Bihar, where 18.75% of the total population was children. “These results broadly indicate a drop in fertility across the country,” the report said. “It is heartening to see that the geographical spread of the decline is now spread across the country and the North South demographic gap shows sign of narrowing down.”