Fertility rate declines in Karnataka: Expert

Bangalore: The fertility rate in Karnataka declined to two children per woman during the past five years resulting in faster negative growth in child population across the state, an expert said Thursday.

"The fertility rate in Karnataka has reached replacement level of two children per woman while it is around 2.6 children per woman for all-India. As a result, the state will have faster negative growth in the child population in future," said K.S. James, head of the population research centre at the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC).

Noting that Karnataka had witnessed rapid changes in demographic features during the past decade, James said the southern region of the state had recorded very low fertility in comparison to the northern region, which is nearing replacement fertility.

"Of the 30 districts across the state, 21 have achieved the fertility level of two children or less and the remaining districts are close to this level as per the 2011 census data," James said in a statement here.

The state is also attracting both skilled and unskilled migrants from other parts of the country. Even within the state, migration is taking place from north to south to meet the labour shortage. Such dualism will have implications on the policies of the government.

"The southern part with advanced demographic features will need advanced health care due to changes in the age structure from child to late adult age groups, whereas the northern part needs emphasis on maternal and child-related emphasis on health care", James advocated.

In the state capital (Bangalore), which has emerged as the country`s tech hub, rapid demographic growth during the past decade has increased its population to 8.4 million from 5.7 million in 2001.

"The rate of change in population and rate of change in literacy has, however, been not different indicating a large inflow of unskilled labour migrants into the city. This trend is likely to continue in the future as well," James said.

Though such a migration should result in people moving away from the core to the periphery, James said the city`s demographic presence remained the same.

"The periphery also needs to be developed to have a better distribution of the population in the city so that infrastructure pressure can be reduced," he added.


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