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Fertility rate declines in Karnataka: Expert study

Bangalore: Fertility rate has declined to two children per woman in Karnataka in the past five years which will lead to faster negative growth in child and young population in future, according to an expert in the field.

Karnataka has recorded rapid changes in demographic features in the last ten years, says Prof. K S James, Head of Population Research Centre at the Bangalore-based think-tank, Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC).

The fertility rate has reached replacement level of two children per woman in Karnataka while for all India it is around 2.6. Karnataka will have faster negative growth in the child and young population in the future, he cautioned.

The state continues to have significant demographic divide. The southern part has reached very low fertility while the northern part is nearing towards replacement level fertility.

Of the 30 districts, 21 have already achieved the fertility level of two children or less and a few others are very close to this level based on the estimates done using 2011 census data. Interestingly, the low fertility districts in the south are reaching unexpectedly low fertility, he said.

The State is currently attracting both unskilled and skilled migrants from other parts of the country. Even within the state, there is migration from north to south to fill in labour scarcity of unskilled workers. Such dualism also has implications on the policies of the government.

While 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, the northern part needs emphasis on maternal and child related emphasis on health care, Prof James advocated.

The population growth rate has been rapid in Bangalore during the last decade indicating that the city is attracting large migrants both from within and outside the state. The rate of change in population and rate of change in literacy has been not significantly different indicating a large inflow of unskilled labour migrants into the city. This trend is likely to continue in the future as well.

Typically such process will lead to movement of people away from the core to the periphery of the city. But that has not taken place significantly in Bangalore. This implies that the periphery of the city also needs to be developed to have a better distribution of the population in the city so that the infrastructure pressure can be reduced, he noted.

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