Impact of Demographic Transition on Women’s Life

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August 04, 2023

Why in news?

The theme of 2023 World Population Day ‘Unleashing the power of gender equality: Uplifting the voices of women and girls to unlock our world’s infinite possibilities’ speaks about women empowerment and gender equity.

What is demographic transition?

  • Demographic transition is defined as the change in patterns of birth rates and death rates as a city, a country, or a continent transitions through increased industrialization or the industrial revolution.
  • Status of demographic transition - As per the Sample Registration System (SRS) Bulletin of Registrar General of India, life expectancy is 69 years.


SRS 2014

SRS 2019

SRS 2020

Total Fertility Rate




Infant Mortality Rate




Under 5 Mortality Rate




Maternal Mortality Rate





  • Life Expectancy - It refers to the number of years a person can expect to live.
  • Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) - It is the probability of the infant dying between birth and one year of age as against 1000 live births.
  • Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) - It is measured as the number of maternal deaths that occur for every 100,000 live births.

What good has the demographic transition made for women?

  • Low active mothering- With increase in educational attainment of women and decrease in TFR leads to smaller proportion of women’s life in active mothering role.
  • Successful family planning initiatives- The aim is to provide an increasingly comprehensive package of reproductive health services to every potential beneficiary.
  • Focus is on the provision of modern short and long-acting reversible contraceptives, permanent methods, information, counselling, and services, including emergency contraception.
  • Improvement in social indicators- Since the beginning, of 2000 India has cut the number of child marriages by half. Teen pregnancies have dramatically decreased.
  • Holistic improvement- Access to vital services, including health, education, and nutrition is also increased.

What are the major issues faced by women?

  • Son-meta preference- Social norms, patrilocal kinship patterns combined with lack of financial security reinforce preference for sons.
  • The India Human Development Survey (IHDS) found that 85% of women respondents expected to rely on their sons for old age support, while only 11% expected support from their daughters.
  • Sex-selective abortion- With fewer children, giving birth to a son is reduced and hence sex-selective abortion and neglect of sick daughters is on rise.
  • Early motherhood- It is due to early marriage and childbearing.
  • The lower TFR does not translate into higher labour force participation for women, it is due to the gap in the childcare demand which leads to unskilled work.
  • Widowhood- Women generally marry men who are older and are more likely to outlive their husbands.
  • The 2011 Census shows that while only 18% of men above age 65 are widowed, about 55% of the women are widowed.
  • Lack of access to savings and property results in dependence on children, mainly sons, bringing the vicious cycle of son preference to full circle.
  • Lack of physical autonomy- As per National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), just 10% of women in India are independently able to take decisions about their own health.
  • Moreover 11% of women believe that marital violence is acceptable if a woman refuses to have sex with her husband.

SDG 5 - It is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

What lies ahead?

Harnessing Gender Dividend

  • Developing social infrastructure - Improvement in the childcare access will result in women empowerment.
  • Making crèche employment as an acceptable form under MGNREGA scheme would enhance childcare access.
  • Improving women’s labour force participation- This can be enhanced with safe and affordable childcare, this would break the vicious cycle of gendered disadvantage.

Raising the women’s labour force participation by 10 % points might account for more than 70% of the potential GDP growth opportunity.

  • Women Empowerment- Achieving gender parity in the workforce is the most effective way to improve output and income growth.
  • Investments - Gender equality can be ensured by making investments in a woman’s life at every stage, from childbirth to adolescence to maturity.

Women’s Reproductive Autonomy

  • Right to reproductive choice- This is vital for both mother and the baby, this would reduce unwanted pregnancies.
  • Expand contraceptive band- This would reduce the detrimental effects of unspaced pregnancies.
  • Improve the new-born’s health as well as reduce the major effects on maternal mortality, morbidity, and health-care expenditure.
  • Focus on gender equality- It helps shift the focus away from the notion of ‘population stabilisation’ to ‘population dynamics’ based on reproductive choices people make.
  • Gender Budgeting- Formulate legislations and policies to empower and assert women’s rights, requires investment from childbirth to old age of women.



  1. The Hindu| Demographic transition
  2. The Hindu| Reproductive autonomy
  3. PIB| SRS report
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