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Population and Associated Issues


To prepare for INDIAN SOCIETY for any competitive exam, aspirants have to know about Population and Associated Issues. It gives an idea of all the important topics for the IAS Exam and the Economy syllabus (GS-II.). Important Population and Associated Issues terms are important from Economy perspectives in the UPSC exam. IAS aspirants should thoroughly understand their meaning and application, as questions can be asked from this static portion of the IAS Syllabus in both the UPSC Prelims and the UPSC Mains exams.

In sociology, population refers to a collection of humans. Demography is a social science which entails the statistical study of populations. Population, in simpler terms, is the number of people in a city or town, region, country or world; population is usually determined by a process called census (a process of collecting, analyzing, compiling and publishing data).


Without people, there would be no society, economy, or culture. The current population of India is at 132.42 crores (as of 2016) and is the second-highest in the world. Also, our population is what contributes to our socio-economic structure and the diverse cultural scenario.


According to ‘The World Population Prospects 2019’ published by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, India is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country by 2027. The global population is projected to increase by another 2 billion people by 2050.

  • The current population of India contributes to 17% of the global population.
  • A recently released United Nations report said that India is expected to add 273 million people by the year 2050. According to the recent report released in 2019, India has an estimated population of 1.37 billion and China, 1.43 billion and by the year 2027, India’s population is projected to surpass China’s, making India the most populous nation in the world.
  • As per details from Census 2011, Uttar Pradesh has a population of 19.98 Crores, an increase from the figure of 16.62 Crore in 2001 census. Total population of Uttar Pradesh as per 2011 census is 199,812,341 of which male and female are 104,480,510 and 95,331,831 respectively. While on the other hand, states like Sikkim and Lakshadweep have the lowest population of 0.5 million in Sikkim and only 60000 people in the island state of Lakshadweep.
  • This uneven distribution of the population is due to the varying population density of the country.


  • Population density refers to the total number of people per unit of area.
  • It is largely dependent on the geographical location and geological factors.
  • Therefore, states like Assam, Himachal Pradesh, and other hilly terrains have a lower density of population.
  • While the northern plains and coastal areas like Kerala, West Bengal, and Maharashtra have very high population density.


Registrar General of India

  • Registrar General of India was founded in 1961 by the Government of India under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • It arranges, conducts and analyses the results of the demographic surveys of India including Census of Indiaand Linguistic Survey of India.
  • The position of Registrar is usually held by a civil servant holding the rank of Joint Secretary



  • Factors Influencing the Distribution of Population
    • Geographical Factors
    • Economic Factors
    • Social and Cultural Factor
    • Demographic factors
    • Political factors



  • Availability of water à resides in those area where fresh water can be easily available, used for drinking, bathing and cooking, for cattle, crops, industries and navigation. These river valleys are densely populated. he Nile, Amazon, and Ganges river systems supported rich civilizations on their banks.
  • Land forms à prefer living on flat plains and gentle slopes. Because areas are favourable for the crops production and to build roads and industries, for example, Ganga plains. Whereas mountainous and hilly regions are less populated due to lack of transport, agricultural and industrial development, for example Himalayan region
  • Climate à Areas with very heavy rainfall or extreme and harsh climates have low population, for example Mediterranean regions. Areas with a comfortable climate, where there is not much seasonal variation attract more people.
  • Soils à Fertile soils are important for agricultural and allied activities. Therefore,
    areas which have fertile loamy soils have dense population. E.g. Northern plains of India. The alluvial regions, deltas and the coastal regions of India support high population densities. On the other hand, mountainous regions, where soil erosion is a problem, such as the Terai region of Uttarakhand, or the sandy soils of the desert of Rajasthan, cannot support dense populations.
  • Location of a place à proximity to major towns and cities – favours concentration of population. Generally, staying within the city limits increases living costs. The city’s periphery or nearby towns provide affordable housing facilities. Cheap and reliable transportation provide convenient means of commuting.
  • Natural disasters à Natural disasters discourage population concentration. Frequent storms, earthquakes, floods, wild fires discourage formation of settlements as people migrate to safer places. There are many examples of destruction of settlements due to the natural disasters.



  • Minerals à Areas with mineral deposits attract industries and therefore generate employment. Skilled and semi- skilled workers move to these areas and make them densely populated. Example Katanga Zambia copper belt in Africa. The higher population densities in the Chota Nagpur Plateau of Jharkhand and in the adjoining areas of Orissa are largely due to the availability of minerals.
  • Urbanization à Cities offer better employment opportunities, educational and medical facilities, better means of transport and communication and good civic amenities which attract more population.
  • Transport à The growth of the population is directly proportional to the development of transport facilities. The northern plain of India has a dense network of transport routes and is a densely populated region. The peninsular plateau has a moderate network of transport routes and is a moderately populated area. The Himalayan region badly lacks transport facilities and is scarcely populated.
  • Industrialization à Industrial belts provide job opportunities and attract large numbers of people. Example the Kobe-Osaka region of Japan.
  • Economic activity à It is an indicator of employment opportunities. People in the rural areas are largely dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. If the land fails to support the rural population, or with more opportunities available in urban areas, they may choose to migrate to cities. Concentration of population in urban areas is an outcome of diverse economic activities and livelihood options offered by cities.
  • Social Organization of communities in new areas encourages the movement of people and settling in newer lands. Man is a social animal and it becomes essential for him to form a community, creating a familiar environment where he stays.
  • Attract more people due to religious and cultural significance.


  • Migration à has deep influence on population distribution. The push factors, or negative circumstances, at the place of origin tend to motivate people to leave their native places to newer areas. Better opportunities in distant lands also encourage migration. People may choose to move due to land scarcity, shortage of work in current place of residence, insufficient wages or salaries, inadequate medical facilities and education, etc.
  • Natural increase à is the net outcome of fertility and mortality in a region. If in a region, the fertility level is high, the population of that place tends to increase. In such situations, mortality brings stability because of deaths. Epidemics and disease have always significantly influenced mortality levels.


  • War and political conflicts take a great toll on human lives. Death rates are high, and people are forced to move out in search of safety. Mortality rates peak and the out-migration dominates. Safer locations experience a sizeable population growth because of the in-flow of migrants.
  • Political unrest and discrimination are detrimental to population growth. Clashes between different political parties or people with different religious beliefs have often resulted in a reduction of population in the affected area.
  • Policies encouraging migration have often led to population growth in the destination region. International labour movements take place where rules governing cross-border migration are lenient. Migration helps in the redistribution of population.


To Sum up à No single factor can be considered as solely responsible for concentrated or scanty populations, or their distribution and growth. Most of the factors described above are interrelated and often act collectively. Advances in technology have helped humans settle in places where it was not possible a few decades ago. The tremendous population growth in the world population has forced many to settle in uninhabitable regions where there is a shortage of adequate natural resources. Earlier, physical factors determined population distribution; however, the industrial revolution and accompanying urbanization increased transport and communication networks. These developments influenced population distribution. In this light present density map of population is a cumulative outcome of the past.

  • Malthus contended that the world’s population was growing more rapidly than the available food supply.
  • He argued that the food supply increases in an arithmetic progression (1, 2, 3, 4, and so on), whereas the population expands by a geometric progression (1, 2, 4, 8, and so on).
  • According to him, the population could increase by multiples, doubling every twenty-five years. The gap between the food supply and the population will continue to grow over time. Even though the food supply will increase, it would be insufficient to meet the needs of an expanding population. Moreover, famine and other natural calamities cause widespread sufferings and increase the death rate, which is nature’s check against the population.
  • Unfortunately, humanity has only a limited ability to voluntarily reduce the growth of its population (through ‘preventive checks’ such as postponing marriage or practicing sexual abstinence or celibacy). Malthus believed ‘positive checks’ to population growth in the form of famines and diseases.
  • Nature has its own ways of keeping a check on the increasing population. It brings the population level to the level of the available food supply. The positive checks include famines, earthquakes, floods, epidemics, wars, etc. When humans fail to control excessive population growth, nature plays its role.


  • Karl Marx went one step further and argued that starvation was caused by the unequal distribution of wealth and its accumulation by capitalists. It has nothing to do with the population.
  • The population is dependent on economic and social organization. The problems of overpopulation and limits to resources, as enunciated by Malthus, are inherent and inevitable features associated with the capitalist system of production.
  • He does not believe in natural laws controlling the population. According to him, capitalism created population growth in order to create a vast pool of cheap labor.

Age Composition:


(below 15 years):

They are economically unproductive and need to be provided with food, clothing, education, and medical care.
Working Age

(15-59 years):

They are economically productive and biologically reproductive. They comprise the working population.

(Above 59 years):

They can be economically productive though they and may have retired. They may be working voluntarily but they are not available for employment through recruitment.


Sex composition:

  • The Sex Ratio refers to the number of females per 1000 males in a given area at a specified time period.
  • The Child Sex Ratio is the sex ratio in the age group 0-6 years (child) in a given area at a specified time period


Transgender composition

  • During the Enumeration of Census 2011, for the first time, three codes were provided i.e. Male-1, Female –2, and others -3. In case the respondent wished to record neither ‘1’ nor ‘2’, then enumerator was instructed to record sex as ‘other’ and give code ‘3’
  • The population of ‘other’ as per Census 2011 is 4,87,803.

Divyang composition

  • The 2011 census shows 8 lakh households having disabled persons in the country constituting 8.3 percent of the total households.
  • Total households having disabled persons show an increase of 5 lakhs from the last census.

Literacy composition

  • Literacy as a prerequisite to education is an instrument of empowerment.
  • Literacy levels have improved considerably after independence and almost two-thirds of our population is now literate.


Working Population Composition

  • The population of India according to their economic status is divided into three groups, namely; main workers, marginal workers, and non-workers
  • Main Worker is a person who works for at least 183 days in a year.
  • A marginal Worker is a person who works for less than 183 days in a year
  • The work participation rate is defined as the percentage of total workers (main and marginal) to the total population.
  • According to National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) conducted in 2011-12, the total workforce is estimated at 41 crore, out of which 33.69 crore were rural workers and 13.72 crore were urban workers.
  • This indicates an economic status in which there is a larger proportion of the dependent population, further indicating the possible existence of a large number of unemployed or underemployed people.



  • At present, the share of adolescents i.e. up to the age group of 10-19 years is about 21 percent (2011).
  • The adolescent population, though, regarded as the youthful population having high potentials, but at the same time they are quite vulnerable if not guided and channelized properly.


  • The age-sex structure of a population refers to the number of females and males in different age groups.
  • A population pyramid is used to show the age-sex structure of the population. The shape of the population pyramid reflects the characteristics of the population.
  • The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top.
  • The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends.

Expanding Population

  • The age-sex pyramid in such a case is a triangular-shaped pyramid with a wide base and is typical of less developed countries.
  • These have larger populations in lower age groups due to high birth rates.

Constant Population

  • Here, the age-sex pyramid is bell-shaped and tapered towards the top.
  • This shows birth and death rates are almost equal leading to a near-constant population.


Declining Population

  • This pyramid has a narrow base and a tapered top showing low birth and death rates.
  • The population growth in developed countries is usually zero or negative.
  • It is significant that the percentage decadal growth during 2001-11 has registered the sharpest decline. since Independence.
  • It declined from 87% for 1981-1991 to 21.54% for the period 1991-2001, a decrease of 2.33 percentage points. For 2001-2011, this decadal growth has become 17.64%, a further decrease of 3.90 percentage points.
  • Similarly, the average exponential growth rate for 2001-2011 has declined to 1.64% per annum from 1.97% per annum during 1991-2001. The average annual exponential growth rate during 1981-1991 was 2.16.


Stable Population Period (1891-1921):

During the period from 1891 to 1921, the growth of the Indian population was very slow and it was almost stable. The decades of 1891-1901 and 1911-1921 witnessed the negative growth of the population because of famines.
Fast Growth of Population (1921-1951):

From 1921 onwards, India’s population started rising steadily. The average annual growth rate of the population during this 30-year period increased to 1.22 percent. In absolute number, the population of India increased by 10.96 crores during this period.
Population Explosion: 1951 – 1981 Population explosion in india

Population Explosion is a situation in which the size of the population tends to become enormous owing to a widening gulf between birth rate and death rate. During the phase of 1951-1981, India witnessed the population explosion. The growth rate of the population reached 2.2% by 1981. The average annual growth rate of the population during this period reached 2.15%.
The post-1981 population started slowing down gradually

From 1981 onwards, India’s population has been growing consistently but the growth rate of the population has been falling.

Since Independence, India’s population has registered the sharpest decline from 2001 to 2011.



The population policy of the Government of India has passed through the following phases from time to time:

Since the middle of the 20th century:

  • After independence, Indian decision-makers also realized the importance and need of population control as early as in 1951- 52, though before independence a sub-committee on population was also appointed by Indian National Congress in 1940 under the chairmanship of renowned social scientist Radha Kamal Mukherjee to suggest ways and means to arrest the galloping population.
  • In 1956, a Central Family Planning Board (CFPB) was created which emphasized sterilization. Up till the 1960s, a rigid policy was not adopted to arrest the fast growth of the population. The policy framed in 1951-52 was ad hoc in nature, flexible, and based on a trial and error approach.
  • Until the Fifth Plan, the family planning program concerned itself primarily with birth control but in this plan ‘maternal and child health and nutrition services’ were also included as an integral part of the family planning program. Despite all the Five-Year Plans (from First to Tenth) and policies, the population of India is growing at a faster pace and taking the shape of ‘population explosion’.
  • In 1961-71, the population growth rate was 25 percent which was highest in any decade after independence. At present (2001-2011), the population growth rate has declined to 1.50 percent.
  • In April 1976, the First National Population Policy was framed which suggested a wide spectrum of programs including raising the statutory age of marriage, introducing monetary incentives, paying special attention to improving female literacy, etc.
  • To check the alarming population growth, an attempt has been made to rejuvenate the National Family Welfare Programme
  • It was emphasized that the population control program would continue purely on a voluntary basis as an integral part of a comprehensive policy package covering education, health, maternity and childcare, and women’s rights and nutrition, including an anti-poverty program. It was made by people’s programs based on the welfare approach.
  • This revised strategy particularly focused on the provision of family planning strives at the doorsteps of the people. It is with this objective that the age of marriage is proposed to be raised for women from 18 to 20 years as envisaged in the National Population Policy document, 2000,
  • As a part of family welfare and population control, the government has revised the PNDT Act in 2003, which was enacted in 1994. The main aim of the Act is to check female (embryo) infanticide.

First Five Year Plan: India is the first country in the world to begin a population control program in 1952. It emphasized the use of natural devices for family planning.
Second Five Year Plan: Work was done in the direction of education and research and the clinical approach was encouraged.
Third Five Year Plan: In 1965, the sterilization technique for both men and women was adopted under this plan. The technique of copper- T was also adopted. An independent department called the Family Planning Department was set up.
Fourth Five-Year Plan: All kinds of birth control methods (conventional and modern) were encouraged.
Fifth Five Year Plan: Under this plan, the National Population Policy was announced on 16 April 1976. In this policy, the minimum age for marriage determined by the Sharda Act, 1929 was increased. It increased the age for boys from 18 to 21 years and for girls from 14 to 18 years. Under this Plan, forced sterilization was permitted which was later on given up.
In the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Plans: Efforts were made to control the population by determining long-term demographic aims.
Ninth Five-Year Plan: In 1993, the government had established an expert group under the chairmanship of M.S. Swaminathan for formulating national population policy.






The actual number of births the woman undergoes is broadly termed as the fertility of that woman. Commonly used measures of the fertility of the population are given below:


General Fertility Rate

It is the number of live births per 1000 women, aged 15-49 years (child-bearing age group), in a given period
Age-Specific Fertility Rate

The number of live births occurring during a given year or reference period per 1000 women of reproductive age classified in that age group.
Total Fertility Rate

The total fertility rate refers to the total number of live births that a woman would have if she lived through the reproductive age group and had the average number of babies in each segment of this age group as determined by the age-specific fertility rates for that area.


Determinants of High Fertility:

  • Religious Ideologies
  • Early marriage and early child-bearing.
  • Preference for sons ingrained in Indian culture.
  • Lack of the right of self-determination with reference to reproduction
  • Economic, social, cultural as well as the religious value of children in the Indian society
  • Absence of adoption of methods of conception control.


Implications of High Fertility

  • Women are tied down to child-bearing and child-rearing for the best years of their productive lives. They are, therefore, denied the opportunity to explore other avenues for self-expression and self-development.
  • The burden of providing for a large family sits heavily on the bread-winner of the family. The constant struggle to maintain a subsistence level is exhausting. To escape from the problems of everyday life, he may take to drinking.
  • The children, often unwanted, unloved, and neglected, are left to their own to make life bearable. The children in large families often have to start working at a very early age to supplement the slender financial resources of the family
  • The girl child is the worst sufferer in these circumstances. She is often not sent to school at all or is withdrawn from school at an early age to help her mother in carrying out domestic chores and to look after her younger siblings when the mother is at work


The recent trend in Total fertility rate:

India’s total fertility rate (TFR) is declining. It is now 2.2 per woman, nearing the replacement rate of 2.1, according to the Sample Registration System (SRS) compiled by the Registrar General of India (RGI) for 2017. The replacement level is the number of children needed to replace the parents, after accounting for fatalities, skewed sex ratio, infant mortality, etc.


Reason for the decrease in TFR:

  • Higher education, increased mobility, late marriage, financially independent women and overall prosperity are all contributing to a falling TFR.
  • It goes below 2 in both urban and rural areas, where girls complete schooling and reduce further as they pass college.
  • Bihar, with the highest TFR of 3.2, had the maximum percentage of illiterate women at 26.8%, while Kerala, where the literacy rate among women is 99.3%, had among the lowest fertility rates.
  • As more cities come up, people move for jobs and employment tenure gets shorter, TFR may reduce further.
  • Working people in urban areas want better pay, implying that they have to reduce the number of children so as to increase the time they spend at their workplace.


What needs to be done?

  • Health and education parameters need to be improved substantially to make the Indian workforce efficient and skilled.
  • Enhance, support and coordinate private sector initiatives for skill development through appropriate Public-Private Partnership (PPP) models; strive for significant operational and financial involvement from the private sector
  • Focus on underprivileged sections of society and backward regions of the country thereby enabling a move out of poverty
  • New technology could be exploited to accelerate the pace of building human capital, including massive open online courses and virtual classrooms
  • Policymakers should have a greater incentive to redouble their efforts to promote human capital so that it can contribute to economic growth and job creation



  • If the rate at which people die is more than the rate at which birth occurs, the number of people (population) will decrease and the reverse will occur if the death rate is lower than the birth rate.
  • Out of many measures, it is sufficient to describe three basic measures of mortality: the crude death rate, the expectation of life at birth, and the infant mortality rate.

Crude Death Rate

  • It is the ratio of the total registered deaths occurring in a specified calendar year to the total mid-year population of that year, multiplied by 1000.

The expectation of Life at Birth

  • The average number of years of life which a cohort of new-born babies (that is, those born in the same year) may be expected to live if they are subjected to the risks of death at each year, according to the age-specific mortality rates prevailing in the country at the time to which the measure refers.
  • An Indian born in 1950 could expect to live for 37 years, whereas today India’s life expectancy at birth nearly doubled to 68 years, by 2050, it is projected to increase to 76 years. As a result, India’s population will rise from 1.3 billion today to an estimated 1.7 billion by 2050, with a much larger elderly share of around 340 million.

Infant Mortality Rate (IMR)

  • Infants are defined in demography as all those children in the first year of life who have not yet reached age one.
  • It is the number of deaths of children under one year of age per 1000 live births.


Recent trends in IMR

  • As per the latest government data released in 2019, India has reduced its infant mortality rate (IMR) by 42% over 11 years–from 57 per 1,000 live births in 2006 to 33 in 2017.
  • Despite the reduction, India’s IMR in 2017 remained higher than the global 4, a rate equivalent to that of the West African nation of Senegal and higher than most South Asian neighbors’ except that of Pakistan and Myanmar.
  • In 2017, India’s rural areas had an IMR of 37 and urban areas 23, revealing the difference in healthcare quality
  • India has the highest burden of under-five deaths in the world.
  • United Nations has recently set Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and Targets. The target for India is to attain Under 5 Mortality Rate of 25/1000 live births by 2030.

Maternal Mortality Rate:

  • Maternal death is the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes
  • As per Sample Registration System (SRS), 2011-13 reports Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) is 167 per 1,00,000 live births in the Country.


  • Meaning à In a layman’s language, the word ‘migration’ refers to the movements of the people from one place to another.
  • “migration is a form of geographical mobility or spatial mobility between one geographical unit and another, generally involving a change in residence from the place of origin or place of departure to the place of destination or place of arrival, for a considerable period of time.”
  • Migration, in the social sense, refers to the physical transition of an individual or a group from one society to another. This transition usually involves abandoning one social-setting and entering another and different one.
  • People may move within a country between different states or between different districts of the same state or they may move between different countries.
  • Therefore, different terms are used for internal and external migration.
    • Internal migration refers to migration from one place to another within a country.
    • External migration or international migration refers to migration from one country to another.
  • When people move from one place to another, the place they move from Place of Origin to Place of Destination. The place of origin shows a decrease in population while the population increases in the place of destination.
  • Immigration: Migrants who move into a new place are called Immigrants
  • Emigration: Migrants who move out of a place are called Emigrants.
  • These terms are used only in connection with international migration.
  • For example, migrants leaving India to settle down in the United States or Canada are immigrants to the United States or Canada and emigrants from India.
  • In Migration and Outmigration are used only in connection with internal migration.
  • ‘In migration’ refer to migration into a particular area or area of destination
  • ‘Out migration’ refers to movements out of a particular area or area of origin or place of departure of the migrant. For example, migrants who come from Bihar or Uttar Pradesh to Punjab are considered to be immigrants for Punjab and out-migrants for Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
  • A typology based on time classified migration into long-range migration and short-range/seasonal migration. When a move is made for a longer period, it is called long-range migration. However, when there is a permanent shift of population from one region to another, it is known as permanent migration.
  • But when people shift to the sites of temporary work and residence for some or several months, it is known as periodic or seasonal migration.
  • Apart from these two important types, migration could be voluntary or involuntary or forced brain drain (migration of young skilled persons) and migration of refugees and displaced persons.

What is the Need to Study Migration?

  • Migration is the third component of population change, the other two being mortality and fertility. However, it is not a biological factor like the other two, which operate in a biological framework, though influenced by social, cultural, and economic factors.
  • Migration is influenced by the wishes of the persons involved. Usually, each migratory movement is deliberately made, though in exceptional cases this may not hold true.
  • Thus, migration is a response of human organisms to economic, social, and demographic forces in the environment. The study of migration occupies an important place in population studies, because, along with fertility and mortality, it determines the size and rate of population growth as well as its structure and characteristics.
  • Migration also plays an important role in the distribution of the population of any country and determines the growth of the labor force in any area. India has witnessed the waves of migrants coming to the country from Central and West Asia and also from Southeast Asia.
  • Similarly, large numbers of people from India have been migrating to places in search of better opportunities, especially to the countries of the Middle-East, Western Europe, America, Australia and East, and Southeast Asia.
  • Migration is thus an important symptom of social change in society.


How is the Phenomenon of Migration Recorded?

  • There are three important sources of information on migration in a country. These are national census, population registers, and sample surveys. In India, the most important sources of data on internal migration are the national census and sample surveys.
  • In the Census of India migration is enumerated on two bases:
    • Place of birth, if the place of birth is different from the place of enumeration (known as lifetime migrant);
    • Place of residence, if the place of the last residence is different from the place of enumeration (known as migrant by place of last residence).


Observing Migration Trends in the Census

  • A few facts pertaining to the internal migration (within the country) and international migration (out of the country and into the country from other countries) are presented in this section.
  • Four streams of the internal migration
    • Rural to rural (R-R);
    • Rural to urban (R-U);
    • Urban to urban (U-U);
    • Urban to rural (U-R)
  • Under the internal migration, four streams are identified:
  • In India, during 2001, out of 315 million migrants, enumerated on the basis of the last residence, 98 million had changed their place of residence in the last ten years. Out of these, 81 million were intra-state migrants. The stream was dominated by female migrants of short distance rural to rural migration in both types of migration. Most of these were migrants related to While men dominate the rural to the urban stream of inter-state migration due to economic reasons.
  • The socio-economic development of the states is considerably higher and that attracts people. Another factor is that because of better education levels and awareness, local residents of these areas get drawn towards better economic opportunities. This vacuum that gets created gets filled up by people from outside. These developed areas face a crisis of manpower, especially for low-skilled jobs, which leads to migration.


According to the International Migration Stock report (released by the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs), India with 17.5 million international migrants has emerged as the top source of international migrants, constituting 6.4% of the world’s total migrant population.


Factors responsible for migration

Migration is a global phenomenon caused not only by economic factors but many other factors like social, political, cultural, environmental, health, education are included under the broader classification of Push and Pull factors of migration:

  • Push factors are those associated with the area of origin.
  • Poor economic activity and lack of job opportunities are also strong push factors for migration. Other strong push factors include race and discriminating cultures, political intolerance, and persecution of people who question the status quo.
  • Pull factors are those that are associated with the area of destination.
  • Better economic opportunities, more jobs, and the promise of a better life often pull people into new locations.


Impact of migration on modern societies



● It has positive contribution such as the evolution of composite culture and breaking through the narrow considerations and widens up the mental horizon of the people at large.

● The migration of skilled workers leads to greater economic growth in the region.

● Children get better opportunities for higher education.

● The population density is reduced and the birth rate decreases.




● Many migrants are completely illiterate and uneducated, therefore, they are not only unfit for most jobs, but also lack basic knowledge and life skills.

● Poverty makes them unable to live a normal and healthy life.

● Due to the over-exploitation of natural resources, cities are facing the acute problem of depletion of groundwater, air pollution, disposal of sewage, and management of solid wastes.

Issues faced by migrant labour

Poor implementation of protections under the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act, 1979 (ISMW Act)

Lack of portability of benefits

Lack of affordable housing and basic amenities in urban areas


National Population Policy, 2000
  • GoI launched the National Population Policy in 2000 to improve quality of lives of people of India and to provide them with equal opportunities to be productive individual of society.
  • The basic aim of this policy is to cover various issues of maternal health, child survival, and contraception and to make reproductive health care accessible and affordable for all.

SDG 3 (3.7) – By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.


  • Choices – It reiterated the government’s resolve to push for voluntary and informed choice and agreeability of citizens to get maximum benefit from reproductive health services.
  • Framework – It embarks on a policy outline for the government for next ten years to improve the reproductive and child health needs of people of India which include issues like child survival, maternal health, contraception, etc.
  • Education – School education upto age of 14, to be made free and mandatory. This will also include plan to check drop-out rate of boys and girls.
  • IMR – The policy also aims at curbing the IMR to less than 30/1000 live births.
  • MMR0 – The Maternal Mortality Rate will also be brought down to less than 100/1, 00,000 live births. A high MMR is a symbol of economic and social disparity of the fairer sex. It also points to heightened inequities in terms of healthcare and nutrition.
  • Immunisation – Another important feature of the policy is to attain universal immunisation of all children against preventable diseases.
  • Marriages – The policy will also act against child marriage and promote 20 years as the right marriageable age for girls. The legal age for same is 18 years.
  • Deliveries – The policy will actively support a target of 80% institutional deliveries and 100 % deliveries by trained persons.
  • It also seeks to achieve 100 % registration of births, deaths, marriages and pregnancies.
  • Preventing and controlling all communicable diseases.
  • It will also strive to Integrate Indian Systems of Medicine to provide reproductive and child health services by reaching out to households.
  • It thus will seek to integrate and converge all related social sector programmes so that complete family welfare and health can be taken care of and properly maintained.
  • NPP 2000 also emphasizes the role of Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddh and Homeopathy (AYUSH) medicine system to serve the goals of public health.
  • The NPP 2000 strived to change the mindsets and behaviour of people from base level. Its intense focus on women empowerment has led to improvement in many national statistics.


Critical Assessment of India’s Population Policy

India’s national population policies have failed to achieve their objectives as we remain world’s second largest populated country. The population of India in 1951 was 35 crore, but by 2011, it had increased to 121 crore. There have been few shortcomings.

  • The NPP have a narrow perspective, give much importance to contraception and sterilisation. The basic prerequisite of meaningfully controlling population include poverty alleviation, improving the standards of living and the spread of education.
  • On national scale the policy was not publicised and failed to generate mass support in favour of population control.
  • We have insufficient infrastructure owing to the lack of trained staff, lack of adequate aptitude among the staff and limited use or misuse of the equipment for population control resulted in failure of the policy.
  • The use of coercion during the Emergency (1976-77) caused a serious resentment among the masses. This made the very NPP itself very unpopular.



United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

  • It is a subsidiary organ of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and works as a sexual and reproductive health agency.
  • It was established as a trust fund in 1967and began operations in 1969.
  • In 1987, it was officially renamed the United Nations Population Fund but the original abbreviation, ‘UNFPA’for the United Nations Fund for Population Activities was retained.
  • The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) establishes its mandate.
  • UNFPA is not supported by the UN budget, instead, it is entirely supported by voluntary contributions of donor governments, intergovernmental organizations, the private sector, foundations and individuals.
  • UNFPA works directly to tackleon health (SDG3), education (SDG4) and gender equality (SDG5).
  • India can achieve a number of SDGs if it links them with family planning.


  • The term was first coined by the American demographer Frank W. Notesteinin the mid-twentieth century, but it has since been elaborated and expanded upon by many others.
  • Theory of Demographic Transition is a theory that throws light on changes in birth rate and death rate and consequently on the growth rate of the population.
  • It is a generalized description of the changing pattern of mortality, fertility, and growth rates as societies move from one demographic regime to another.
  • There are four stages to the classical demographic transition model:


First Stage:

● This stage has been called the high population growth potential stage. It is characterized by high and fluctuating birth and death rates which will almost neutralize each other.
Second Stage:

● It is called the stage of Population Explosion. In this stage, the death rate is decreasing while the birth rate remains constant at a high level.

● Agricultural and industrial productivity increases, means of transport and communication develops.

● There is great mobility of labor. Education expands. Income also increases. People get more and better quality of food products.

Medical and health facilities are expanded.

Third Stage:

● In this stage, the birth rate as compared to the death rate declines more rapidly. As a result, the population grows at a diminishing rate.

● This stage witnesses a fall in the birth rate while the death rate stays constant because it has already declined to the lowest minimum.

● Birth rate declines due to the impact of economic development, changed social attitudes and increased facilities for family planning.

● The population continues to grow fast because the death rate stops falling whereas the birth rate though declining but remains higher than the death rate.

Fourth Stage:

● It is called the stage of the stationary population.

● Birth rate and death rate are both at a low level and they are again near balance.

● The birth rate is approximately equal to the death rate and there is little growth in population.

● It becomes more or less stationary at a low level


  • Demographic dividend occurs when the proportion of working people in the total population is high because this indicates that more people have the potential to be productive and contribute to the growth of the economy.
  • More than 63% of the population in India is in the age group of 15-59 years, broadly termed as India’s demographic
  • But this potential can be converted into actual growth only if the rise in the working-age group is accompanied by increasing levels of education and employment.
  • Since 2018, India’s working-age population (people between 15 and 64 years of age) has grown larger than the dependant population — children aged 14 or below as well as people above 65 years of age. This bulge in the working-age population is going to last till 2055, or 37 years from its beginning.
    India is on the right side of demographic transition that provides a golden opportunity for its rapid socio-economic development if policymakers align the developmental policies with this demographic shift.
  • To reap the demographic dividend, proper investment in human capital is needed by focussing on education, skill development and healthcare facilities.


According to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), demographic dividend means, “the economic growth potential that can result from shifts in a population’s age structure, mainly when the share of the working-age population (15 to 64) is larger than the non-working-age share of the population (14 and younger, and 65 and older)”.


Sample Registration System

  • The SRS is a demographic surveyfor providing reliable annual estimates of infant mortality rate, birth rate, death rate and other fertility and mortality indicators at the national and sub-national levels.
  • It was initiated on a pilot basis by the Registrar General of India in a few states in 1964-65, it became fully operational during 1969-70.



Problems of Over-population:

  • Rapid population growth leads to a large population of young people who are dependent on a relatively small section of the working population
  • Unemployment: In many underdeveloped countries industry is not well established and there are few employment opportunities for unskilled workers.


Environmental degradation:

  • Unbridled use of natural resources, as well as growth in energy production from coal, oil, and natural gas (fossil fuels), is having a negative impact on the planet.
  • Diversion of water for domestic, industrial and agricultural uses leading to increased river pollution and decrease in self-cleaning properties of rivers.
  • Increasing water requirement leading to tapping deeper aquifers which have high content of arsenic or fluoride resulting health problems.
  • Disturbance from increased recreational activity and tourism causing pollution of natural ecosystems with wastes left behind by people.


Rising living costs:

  • All the above will lead, at the end of the day, to increasing living costs in most countries.
  • Fewer resources, less water, the packing of many people into confined spaces, and a lack of money are provoking an increase in the cost of living whereby only a percentage of the population will be able to cover all their needs.


Food security:

  • It is estimated that the global population will grow to 9 billion by 2050 and the food production will double; improvement in purchasing power and changing dietary habits (shift to animal products) may further add to the requirement of food grains.
  • In the next five decades, the food and nutrition security could become critical in many parts of the world especially in the developing countries and pockets of poverty in the developed countries.
  • Over years the coarse grain production has remained stagnant and per capita availability of coarse grain has under gone substantial reduction; there has been a shift away from coarse grains to rice and wheat consumption even among poorer segment of population.


Problems of underpopulation:


Population Problems of Advanced Countries

  • Ageing Population: Due to the low birth rate the proportion of young people in the population is relatively small.
  • Small Workforce: As educational standards improve children remain longer at school and join the workforce later
  • Rural Depopulation: Steady movement of the population occurs from the countryside to towns due to the pull factors of city life.
  • Urbanization: As towns expand, the pressure on transport, water supplies, sewage and refuse disposal grows and creates problems


Declining sex ratio:

  • India’s sex ratio, or the number of females per 1,000 males, declined to 896 in 2015-17 from 898 in 2014-16, according to a government survey
  • Women now represent 40 percent of the global labor force, 43 percent of the world’s agricultural labour force, and more than half the world’s university students.
  • Productivity will be raised if their skills and talents are used more fully.


Implications of lowering sex ratio

  • Low Sex ratio at birth has led to large numbers of “surplus men” in countries like India andChina.
  • Skewed sex ratio leads to more violence against men and women, as well as human trafficking
  • Skewed sex ratio reduces the ability of women to influence policymaking and act as a pressure group. Skewed sex ratio is leading to the practice of bride purchase.
  • This is leading to the objectification of women.


What needs to be done?

  • The welfare schemes must be aimed at not only bringing the structural reforms rather attitudinal changes. For example, the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao program launched as a movement.
  • Promoting the women’s participation at the higher levels so that empowerment can penetrate through their efforts. For example, the 108th CAA be implemented to provide a 33% reservation to the women in the parliament. This empowers the few and inspires the millions.
  • Capacity building program for empowering the women through an inward out process. For example, SHGs for micro-lending linkage.
  • Educating the Adolescent Girl Children about Reproductive Rights and Reproductive Health.
  • Improvement in the food quality of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme.
  • Bio-fortification of food grains distributed through PDS which address Hidden Hunger.



Infant mortality:

  • In 1961, the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), deaths of infants per 1000 live births, was 115. The current all India average is much lower at 57. However, in most developed countries this figure is less than 5.
  • A key factor affecting the growth of the population is the death, or mortality rate.
  • Just as the birth of new people increases the population size, deaths decrease it.
  • The factors that affect the mortality rate include the availability and affordability of quality health care and lifestyle habits

Infant Mortality Rate (IMR)

  • Infant mortality is the number of deaths of children under one year of age per 1000 live births
  • IMR has decreased to 32 about one-fourth as compared to 1971 (129).
  • The IMR at an all-India level has declined from 50 to 32 in the last decade.
  • Madhya Pradesh has the highestIMR of 48 and Nagaland has the lowest IMR of 4.

Early marriage

  • Nationwide almost 43% of married women aged 20-24 were married before the age of 18. This figure is as high as 68% in Bihar.
  • Early marriage increases the likelihood of more children, it also puts the woman’s health at risk.


Fertility Rate

  • The factor which affects the growth of the population in the biggest way is the fertility rate.
  • For more information refer determinants of population change.


Immigration and Emigration

  • Cross-border migration is the act of people moving from one country to another.
  • It affects the population size of both the host and destination countries.
  • Emigration is caused by a number of factors, such as fleeing war, finding education, seeking new jobs, or joining family members. When a person emigrates from a country, its population shrinks.
  • When someone moves to a country from another place, it is known as immigration. Whether or not a person is allowed to immigrate is controlled by the country that will host this person.


Availability of family planning.

  • Increased availability of contraception can enable women to limit family size closer to the desired level.
  • According to NFHS III (2005-06), only 56% of currently married women use some method of family planning in India. A majority of them (37%) have adopted permanent methods like sterilization.
  • Other socio-economic factors – The desire for larger families particularly preference for a male child also leads to higher birth rates. It is estimated that preference for a male child and high infant mortality together account for 20% of the total births in the country.

The United Nation’s World Population Prospect, 2019 highlights that the world population continues to grow but at a slower pace (from 5.3 billion people in 1990 to 7.7 billion people in 2019) owing to the global efforts to reduce levels of fertility. This population is projected to be increased to 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050, and reach up to 10.9 billion by 2100.



Minimum age of Marriage:

● As fertility depends on the age of marriage, therefore, the minimum age of marriage should be raised. In India the minimum age for marriage is 21 years for men and 18 years for women has been fixed by law.

● This law should be firmly implemented and people should also be made aware of this through publicity.

Raising the Status of Women:

● There is still discrimination to the women. They are confined to four walls of the house. They are still confined to the rearing and bearing of children.

● Women should be given opportunities to develop socially and economically.

Free education should be given to them.

The spread of Education:

● The spread of education changes the outlook of people.

● Educated men prefer to delay marriage and adopt small family norms.

● Educated women are health conscious and avoid frequent pregnancies and thus help in lowering the birth rate

Social Security:

● More and more people should be covered under social security schemes. So that they do not depend upon others in the event of old age, sickness, unemployment, etc. with these facilities they will have no desire for more children.
More employment opportunities:

● The first and foremost measure is to raise employment avenues in rural as well as urban areas. Generally, in rural areas, there is disguised unemployment.

● So efforts should be made to migrate unemployed persons from the rural side to the urban side. This step can check population growth.

Development of Agriculture and Industry:

● If agriculture and industry are properly developed, a large number of people will get employment.

● When their income is increased they would improve their standard of living and adopt small family norms.

Standard of Living:

Improved standard of living acts as a deterrent to the large family norms. In order to maintain their higher standard of living people prefer to have a small family.

● According to A.K. Das Gupta those who earn less than Rs. 100 per month have on average a reproduction rate of 3.4 children and those who earn more than Rs. 300 per month have a reproduction rate of 2.8 children.

Family Planning:

● This method implies “family by choice and not by chance”.

By applying preventive measures, people can regulate birth rates. This method is being used extensively; the success of this method depends on the availability of cheap contraceptive devices for birth control. According to Chander Shekher, “Hurry for the first child, Delay the second child, and avoid the third.”

  • Scheme for Home delivery of contraceptives by ASHAs at the doorstep of beneficiaries:
    • The govt. has launched a scheme to utilize the services of ASHA to deliver contraceptives at the doorstep of beneficiaries.
  • Scheme for ASHAs to ensure spacing in births:
    • Under this scheme, services of ASHAs to be utilized for counselling newly married couples to ensure a delay of 2 years in birth after marriage and couples with 1 child to have a spacing of 3 years after the birth of 1stchild
  • Boost to spacing methods
    • By the introduction of new method PPIUCD (Post-Partum Intra Uterine Contraceptive Device
    • Introduction of the new device Cu IUCD 375, which is effective for 5 years.
    • Emphasis on Postpartum Family Planning (PPFP) services with the introduction of PPIUCD and promotion of minilab as the main mode of providing sterilization in the form of postpartum sterilization to capitalize on the huge cases coming in for institutional delivery under JSY
    • Compensation for sterilization acceptors has been enhanced for 11 High Focus States with high TFR.
  • PRERNA Strategy:
    • In order to help push up the age of marriage of girls and space the birth of children in the interest of the health of young mothers and infants, Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh (National Population Stabilization Fund) – an autonomous body of the MoHFW, Govt. of India has launched PRERNA, a Responsible Parenthood Strategy in all districts of seven focus states namely Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Rajasthan.
  • Santushti Strategy:
    • Under this strategy, Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh invites private sector gynecologists and vasectomy surgeons to conduct sterilization operations in the Public-Private Partnership model.
  • National Helpline:
    • JSK also runs call centers for providing free advice on reproductive health, family planning, maternal health and child health, etc.
  • Advocacy & IEC activities:
    • JSK as a part of its awareness and advocacy efforts on population stabilization has established networks and partnerships with other ministries, development partners, private sectors, corporate and professional bodies for spreading its activities through electronic media, print media, workshop, walkathon.
  • Mission Parivar Vikas
    • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched “Mission Parivar Vikas” in 145 high focus districts having the highest total fertility rates in the country. These 145 districts are in the seven-high focus, high TFR states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Assam that constitute 44% of the country’s population.
    • The main objective of ‘Mission Parivar Vikas’ will be to accelerate access to high quality family planning choices based on information, reliable services and supplies within a rights-based framework.
  • Saas Bahu Sammelan
    • The main objective of this initiative is to hold regular meetings between expecting and new mothers and their mothers-in-law to address any concerns prevalent and advise each party about tackling these matters
  • Contraceptives Antara and Chhaya
    • The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on 5 September 2017 launched two new contraceptives- an injectable contraceptive MPA under the ‘Antara’ programme and a contraceptive pill ‘Chhaya’ in the public health system to expand the basket of contraceptive choices for couples.
    • These contraceptives have been launched in 10 states including Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Haryana, West Bengal, Odisha and Goa.
    • The ‘Antara’ injectable is effective for three months and the ‘Chayya’ pill is effective for one week.



India’s Two-Child Policy

India’s Two-Child Policy refers to the family planning laws which restrict the number of children to two for a given couple. Recently, the Assam government announced that people with more than two children will not be eligible for government jobs from January 2021.

Impact Of Two Child Policy:

  • By restricting the number of children that can be born, there will not be enough educated young people in the next generation to carry on India’s technological revolution
  • The population growth of India will slow down naturally as the country grows richer and becomes more educated
  • The law related may also be anti-women. The law discriminates against women right from birth (through abortion or infanticide of female fetuses and babies), but divorce and familial abandonment are at risk of increasing if a man with a large family wants to run for political office.
  • A legal restriction to two children could force couples to go for sex-selective abortion.


Previous Year Questions
  • How do you explain the statistics that show that the sex ratio in Tribes in India is more favorable to women than the sex ratio among Scheduled Caste? (10 Marks) 2015
  • Discuss the changes in the trends of labor migration within and outside India in the last four decades. (15 Marks) 2015
  • Why do some of the most prosperous regions of India have an adverse sex ratio for women? Give your arguments. (10 Marks) 2014


Practice Questions

  • Briefly discuss the impact of migration on population growth in India.
  • Discuss the factors that are responsible for the distribution of population across India.
  • Population explosion is the result of falling mortality rates and continuing high birth rates.’ With reference to this statement, explain various other determinants of population change in the Indian context.

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 Career Development Program 2023 Result PDF     Download UPSC Mains 2023 Question Papers PDF  Free Initiative links -1) Download Prahaar 3.0 for Mains Current Affairs PDF both in English and Hindi 2) Daily Main Answer Writing  , 3) Daily Current Affairs , Editorial Analysis and quiz ,  4) PDF Downloads  UPSC 2022 Final Result🔥5 out of Top 10 from PW OnlyIAS Community. UPSC Prelims 2023 Trend Analysis cut-off and answer key