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Key takeaways from the latest SRS data

By, New Delhi
Mar 15, 2022 06:09 PM IST

SRS is the only official source of various demographic indicators in India except the census.

The office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, which works under the home ministry, has released the report of the Sample Registration System (SRS) for 2019. SRS is the only official source of various demographic indicators in India except the census. Here are five charts that summarise the key demographic trends.

India is poised at a unique moment in history, where it can exploit its demographic advantage to realise its economic goals.(PTI) PREMIUM
India is poised at a unique moment in history, where it can exploit its demographic advantage to realise its economic goals.(PTI)

India not getting younger anymore; working population on the rise

The share of India’s young population, which comprises people below 15 years of age, fell to 25.3% of the overall population in 2019 from 41.2% in 1971. The share of the working-age population, or people between 15 and 59 years of age, increased to 66.7% in 2019 from 53.4% in 1971. The share of elderly people, or those above 60 years of age, increased to 8% in 2019 from 5.3% in 1971.

India’s youngest and oldest states

The headline numbers at the national level hide significant regional variations. For example, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand were the three youngest states. The share of young people in Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh was 33.5% and 29.1%, respectively, in 2019. This number was the lowest in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Punjab.

Kerala and Tamil Nadu were the oldest states with an elderly population at 12.9% and 11.3%, respectively, of the total population in 2019. Delhi had the highest proportion of working-age population at 76.1% in 2019. This number was the lowest in Bihar and Uttarakhand.

Gender imbalance in birth rates remains the same

The imbalance between male and female birth rates has stayed almost the same between 2017-19 and 2009-11. In 2017-19, there were 904 females born for every 1,000 males. In 2009-11, there were about 906 females born per 1,000 males in the country. There are more female births in urban than rural areas.

Among the states, Kerala reported the highest number of female births in 2017-19, with 968 females born for every 1,000 males. Uttarakhand has the lowest number of female births in 2017-19, with 848 females born for every 1,000 males.

Number of women married before 21 declining

The central government plans to introduce a law to increase the minimum age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 years. SRS data show that while there is a large number of women who were married before 21, it has been declining steadily. In 2019, about 37% of women in the country married before 21 years. Among the states, West Bengal had the highest share of women who got married before 21, followed by Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. Delhi had the least number of women who were married before they were 21. These numbers are cumulative and do not capture current data.

Another piece of evidence from the SRS shows that women are increasingly marrying at a later age. The average age of marriage for women was higher in 2019 at 22.1 years than in 2011 at 21.2 years.

More than half of live births in 2019 were to women bearing first child

About 52.9% of total births in India were to women who had their first child in 2019. And about 11.7% of the live births were a third child.

A staggering 77.9% of children born in Delhi were firstborn, while 33.8% of those in Bihar were third-born or higher. The share of firstborn children in total live births in 2019 is the highest since 2011, the earliest period for which data were available in the SRS reports.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Pavitra Kanagaraj is a data journalist. She uses public and private datasets to cover economy, women, and politics. Prior to HT, she did macroeconomic research at UNESCAP and ERF. She co-founded the Rethinking Economics chapter at JNU in 2021.

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