In India, Muslims still have the highest fertility rate among major religious groups, followed by Hindus, while Jains have the lowest fertility rate, according to a new study published by the Pew Research Center, a non-profit based in Washington DC. Every religious group in the country, however, has witnessed a fall in fertility.
The report also said that among Indian Muslims, the total fertility rate has declined drastically, from 4.4 children per woman in 1992 to 2.6 children in 2015. The total fertility rate of Hindus during the same time declined from 3.3 to 2.1, indicating that "the gaps in childbearing between India's religious groups are much smaller than they used to be."
The study, based on data sourced from India's decennial Census and the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), analysed three main factors that are known to cause changes in religious composition of populations — fertility rate, migration, and conversions. "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," it said, reported Firstpost.
Decline In Fertility Rate
The study said that India's religious composition has been fairly stable since the Partition. The average fertility rate in India today is 2.2, which is higher than the rates in economically advanced countries such as the U.S. (1.6), but much lower than what it was in 1992 (3.4) or 1951 (5.9).
In 1992, the average Muslim woman had at least one more child than the average Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh or Jain. By 2015, fertility rates across all the groups had fallen, with Muslims experiencing the most significant decline. In 1992, Hindu women had an average of 3.3 children. By 2015, it fell to 2.1.
The population of Parsis shrank by almost half, to 60,000 in 2011. Deaths among Parsis have outnumbered births, due to the group's relatively high median age and low fertility rate.