Prelims Level
Mains Level

Important concepts in Demography

  •  Crude Birth Rate: The annual number of live births per 1,000 people.
  •  General Fertility Rate: The annual number of live births per 1,000 women of childbearing age (often taken to be from 15 to 49 years, but sometimes from 15 to 44).
  •  Age-Specific Fertility Rates: The annual number of live births per 1,000 women in particular age groups (usually 15-19, 20-24 and so on).
  •  Crude Death Rate: The annual number of deaths per 1,000 people.
  •  Infant Mortality Rate: The annual number of deaths of children less than 1 year-old per 1,000 live births.
  •  Life Expectancy: The number of years which an individual at a given age can expect to live at present mortality levels.
  •  Total Fertility Rate: The number of live births per woman completing her reproductive life, if her childbearing at each age reflected the current age-specific fertility rates.
  •  Gross Reproduction Rate: The number of daughters who would be born to a woman completing her reproductive life at current age-specific fertility rates.
  •  Net Reproduction Rate: The number of daughters who would be born to a woman according to current age-specific fertility and mortality rates.


India comes next only to China as regards to the size of its population, but is seventh in the world as regards to the area. With 2.4 % of world’s area and with 1.8% of world’s income, India is maintaining 18% of world’s population. It clearly indicates that there is excessive burden of population in India.


  • Demography is a statistical study of human population. It studies a variety of variables related to population like size, growth, distribution, density, composition and their spatial and temporal variations.

Demographics are the quantifiable statistics of the given population based on the study of demography.

13.2.1 Theory of Demographic Transition

Demographic Transition is credited to Frank W Notestein, who gave his theory in 1945. This theory was based on the data from western countries, which experienced a transition in demography from the stage of low birth rates and low mortality with a consequent declining population.

  •  According to this theory, all countries pass through stages of demographic transition, which is accompanied by industrialisation and economic development. Notestein gave the following stages of demographic transition.
  •  These four stages have been described below
    First stage
  •  Stage of high birth rate and high death rate

Birth and death rates are both high. Population growth is slow and fluctuating.


Birth rate is high as a result of

  •  Lack of family planning
  •  High infant mortality rate
  •  Need for workers in agriculture
  •  Religious beliefs
  •  Children as economic assets.
  • Death rate is high because of
  • High levels of disease
  •  Famine
  •  Lack of clean water and sanitation
  •  Lack of healthcare
  •  War
  •  Competition for food from predators such as rats.
  •  Lack of education.

Second stage (early expanding)

  •  Stage of high birth rate and low death rate.

Birth rate remains high; death rate falls. Population begins to rise rapidly.


Death rate falls as a result of
− Improved healthcare (e.g. Smallpox Vaccine)
− Improved hygiene sanitation
− Improved food production and storage
− Improved transport of food
− Decreased infant mortality rates.

Third stage

  •  Stage of declining birth rate and low death rate.
    − This stage is characterised by decline in birth rate, low death rate and low population growth (growth rate of population declines)
    − Birth rate starts to fall; death rate continues to fall. Population continues to rise.


  •  Family planning available.
  •  Lower infant mortality rate
  •  Increased mechanisation reduces need for workers.
  •  Increased standard of living

Changing status of women.

Fourth stage (low fluctuating )

  •  Stage of low birth rate and death rate
    − In the fourth stage of demographic transition, a low birth rate and low death rate lead to a stationary or declining population.
    − It is called a stage of stationary population.
    − Birth and death rates both are low. Population is steady or declining as in many Western European nations at present.

Demographic transition and population Growth

  •  Demographic transition is the transition from a stable population with high mortality and fertility to a stable population with low mortality and fertility during the transition, population growth and changes in the age structure of the population are inevitable.
  •  In India, the demographic transition has been relatively slow, but steady. As a result, the country was able to avoid adverse effects of too rapid changes in the number and age structure of the population on social economic development.

13.2.2 Optimum theory of population

  • This theory states that in every country, there is an optimum level of population. “The optimum population is that, which gives the maximum income per head.” if the population exceeds the optimum level, there is the problem of over population.

13.2.3 Population theory of Malthus

  • Thomas Robert Malthus gave his ideas regarding population in his book ‘Essay, on the principle of Population. He argued that while food production could only increase in arithmetic progression, human population grow exponentially. Thus, he predicted a future when humans would have no resources to survive on.
  •  He supported ‘preventive’ and ‘positive’ checks on population growth such as late marriage. He was however, against birth control after marriage.
  •  Most modern economists disagree with Malthus since he neglected the possibilities from technology and the fact that a larger population increases the chances of someone achieving break through in technology.

    Size and Growth of India’s Population

  •  India’s population increased rapidly in the post independence period. Between 1951 – 61, it increased by more than 7.82 crore or by nearly 21.6%, which exceeded its growth rate of the previous 40 years. This excessive rise in population is called population explosion.
  •  Since 1951, population has been increasing constantly. Between 1971 -81, growth rate of population was 24.8 % and between 1981 – 91, it was 23.8 %
  •  India’s population growth rate, has decelerated to 17.64 % in the decade 2001- 2011, the slowest rate of growth in this past century.
  •  Study of the growth of India’s population can be divided into four periods of time.

Period of Stable Population (1891 to 1921)

  • Between 1891 and 1921, rate of growth of population in India, was low. In these 30 years, population increased by 1.26 crore.
  •  It was so because in these years, calamities and epidemics, like famines, plague, malaria etc took a heavy toll of human lives. The epidemic in 1918, took a toll of 140 lakh human lives.

Period of Growth of Population (1921 to 1951)

  • Since 1921, population has been increasing at a rapid rate. The trend of growth of population in India, since 1921, has been consistently on the rise. That is why Census commissioner has referred the year 1921 as year of Great Divide. This increase was higher than that of the previous
    thirty years.

1921 , the Year of Great Divide

  • The year 1921, is a year of the great divide in the demographic history of India when mortality started to decline leading to acceleration in the rate of population growth. During the next three decades (1921 -51), the rate of population growth continued at a level of over 1% per annum.
    After independence, the rate of population growth accelerated considerably because of extension of public health services. The growth rate was at its peak in the period 1961 -81 with the population growing at a rate of 2.2 % per annum.

Period of population Explosion (1951 to 1981)

  •  In this period, population increased at a very fast rate. This period is called period of population explosion
  •  1951 – 1961 in this period, growth rate was recorded to be 21.6%, which was highest for any decade before that.
  •  1961 – 1971 This period witnessed an increase in population by 10 crore 90 lakhs, growth rate was 24.8 %

1971 – 1981 during this period, population in India rose to 68 crore 33 lakhs, Thus 13 crore 51 lakhs persons were added to the total size of India’s population.

Period of High Growth with Definite Signs of slowing down (1981 to Present)

  • 1981 – 1991 in this period, population went up to 84 crore 63 lakhs making addition of 16 crore in 10 years.
  • 1991 – 2001 in 2001, the population of India went up to 102.90 crore. Thus, between the period 1991-2001, the population of India increased by about 18.07 crore.
  •  2011 In 2011, the population of India was 121.02 crores. This represents an increase of 18.12 crore from the previous decade. This was the first time since census began, that the decadal population growth was lower than the previous decade.


13.3.1 Birth and Death Rates

  •  Birth and death rates in India, are high compared to most countries in the world. Birth rate refers to number of children born per thousand persons in a year. Death rate refers to number of people dying per thousand persons in a year. When it is said that birth rate in India is 23, it means every year 23 children are born per thousand persons on an average.
  •  It is clear that birth rate in India, is still very high in comparison to birth rate of developed nations like Japan, Germany, Canada and UK.
  • If, we compare the birth rates of India and China, we find that birth rate in India is double the birth rate in China. However,  death rate in India is almost same in comparison to the death rates of other countries
Table: Decadal Population Growth and Annual Average Growth Rate YearPopulation (in millions)Growth rate during decade (%)Average annual growth rate (%)
Birth Rate and Death Rate in India (Per Thousand Population)  
YearBirth RateDeath Rate

13.3.2 Density of Population

  •  Density of population refers to average number of people living per square kilo meter. Density of population in a country is measured by dividing its total population by total land area.
  •  In 2011, India’s total population was 121 crore that used to live over an area of 32.80 lakh According to census 2011, density of population in India was 382 per sq. km.

13.3.3 Real population Density

  • Density of population measured for the entire area may not be accurate as some parts of the country may not be liveable. A more accurate measure is considered to be the real population density.

13.3.4 Physiological Density

  • It measures the population per sq km of arable land available in a country. It measures the feeding potential of the country to its citizens.

Comparison of Population (Physiological Density)

CountryPopulation (per arable land)
United Kingdom1077
United States179

13.3.3 Real population Density

  •  Density of population measured for the entire area may not be accurate as some parts of the country may not be liveable. A more accurate measure is considered to be the real population density.

13.3.4 Physiological Density

  •  It measures the population per sq km of arable land available in a country. It measures the feeding potential of the country to its citizens.

13.3.5 Age structure / composition

  •  Age structure of the population of a country indicates the extent, to which the population of that country is productive from the economic point of view.
  •  Population in the age group of 15-60 years is known as working population, population in the age group of 0-14 years and above 60 years is known as non – working / dependent population. Higher proportion of working population is beneficial for the economic development of the country.
  • In India, percentage of population in the age group of 0-14 years is still high. In India, percentage of population above 60 years is increasing. That indicates higher life expectancy and reduction in death rate.

13.3.6 Demographic Gap

  •  It is the difference between the birth rate and death rate of the population of a country. In demographic transition, the demographic gap is small during the initial and final stages, while it becomes large during the middle stages.

Demographic Dividend

The opportunities provided by a country’s demographics in which the working population is much more than the dependent population is called demographic divided. For taking advantage of this dividend, skill development is must as it allows the youth to get adequate and meaningful jobs.

13.3.7 Demographic dividend

  •  It refers to an opportunity before a country with a high share of population between the ages of 15 and 64, to boost economic growth. This stage is reached when the country experiences lower fertility rates, which means that the dependent population below the age of 15 years is low.
  • The population above 64 years of age is also low due to the lower life expectancies of the older generation. On the other hand, the population between 15-64 is high, due to the higher birth rates in the previous between 15 -64 is high, due to the higher birth rates in the previous generation. This reduces the dependency ratio (share of population not engaged in productive employment and dependent on others) and thus, boosts the economic growth.

Data relating to Indian Population
Table: Density, Sex Ratio, Literacy and Urban Population

YearDensitySex RatioLiteracyUrban to Rural (%)
20113829407431 (estimated)
  • A larger working population also means that the domestic savings rate is high (since the dependent population does not increases savings, but reduces them) and thus, investment and economic growth is higher. Many East Asian countries were able to achieve high economic growth rates by utilising their demographic divided.
  •  Demographic divided can only be useful, if it is accompanied by supportive national policies, which improve literacy, provide employment, health care etc. High share of young population in a country can also have negative consequences like social unrest, crime and high divorce rates etc.
  •  Demographic dividend helps economic growth in three ways
  •  Working population has a higher savings rate. Which means higher investment and growth
  •  Low fertility means females get freedom to work (lesser burden if taking card of children) which boosts economic production. It also promotes gender equality.

With lesser children, people spend more on their health, leading to improvement in productivity.

13.3.8 Population Pyramid

  •  Population pyramid is a graphical illustration of the different age groups in a population along with the male and female population. The horizontal axis represents the absolute numbers of population, with one side representing the made population and the other side representing the female population.
  •  The vertical axis is divided into equal divisions representing different age groups such that it encompasses the entire population of the country / region.

13.3.9 Life Expectancy

  •  Expectation of life refers to the average life of the people of a country. In India, expectation of life of the people is very short. It has improved as a result of planet efforts.
  •  Average life expectancy is shown in the table below
  •  In other countries of the world, expectation of life of much longer than ours. For instance, in Australia it is 79 years, in Japan 82 years, in England 77 years, in America 78 years, in Sweden and in Canada it is 802 years.

Expectation of Life (in years)

yearLife Expectancyyearlife expectancy

13.3.10 Sex Ratio

  •  All over the world, males out number the females. Sex ratio in the world is 986 females to 1000 males. According to 2011 census, sex ratio in India was 940 females to 1000 males.
  •  It has changed from census to census as shown in the table given below.

Sex Ratio

YearNumber of women per thousand MenYearNumber of women per thousand Men
19419451991, 2001 927, 933

13.3.11 Literacy

  •  Any person above the age of 7 years, who can read and write in any language is treated as literate. According to the Census 2011, the ratio of literacy in India was 74.04 % Male rate of literacy was 82.14 % and female rate of literacy was 65.46%
  •  The highest literacy rate was in Kerala. It was 93.91%
  •  In Bihar, the literacy rate was just 63.82%
  •  The female literacy rate of Kerala was 91.98 %, which is also the highest in India.
  •  The lowest females literacy rate was in Rajasthan, it was only
  • 52.66%. In Punjab, the female literacy rate was 71.34%. In Haryana, it was 66.77% and in Himachal Pradesh, it was 76.6%. in Jharkhand, it was only 56.21%
  • It may be noted that all the states and union territories have show increase in literacy rate during 2001 -2011.

13.3.12 Occupational Structure of Population

  •  Economists divide all occupations into three sectors
    1) Primary sector
    2) Secondary sector
    3) Tertiary sector

Occupational Distribution of Population in Indi (in %)

primary sector71.772.167.457.45250.2
secondary sector12.611.212.116.819.520.4
tertiary sector15.716.720.525.828.529.4


  •  Population policy refers to all those legal, administrative programmes and other government efforts, which aim at reducing birth and improving the quality of life.
  •  After independence, the government of India adopted a national policy on population with the objective to check the increase in birth rate and improve the standard of living of people. This policy has been revised from time to time and its scope has been very effective in initiating measures for population control.

13.4.1 New National Population Policy (2000)

  •  The government of India announced its new national population policy on 15th February, 2000. The national population policy (NPP) affirms the commitment of government towards voluntary consent of citizens, while availing of reproductive health care services.
  •  The new national population policy (NPP) provides a policy frame work to meet the reproductive and child health needs of the people of India for the next 10 years.

13.4.2 Targets of NPP, 2000

  •  To achieve zero growth rate of population by 2045.
  • To reduce infant mortality rate below 30 per thousand live birth by 2010.
  • To reduce birth rate to 21 per thousand by 2010
  • To reduce total fertility rate to 2.1 by 2010
  •  It is estimated that the population of India will be 126.4 crore by 2016.

13.4.3 12th Plan and Family Welfare Programmes

The main targets of 12th Plan regarding family welfare are given  below

ParticularTarget (2016 -17)
Infant Mortality Rate25 per 1000
Material Mortality Rate100 per 1000000
Total Fertility Rate2.1
sex ratio for 0-6 years age groupfrom 914 to 950 Important facts related to Rural /Urban population (2011 census)

  •  In the decade from 2001 to 2011, rural population increased by 90.47 million, while urban population increased by 91 million. For the first time, increase in urban population has outpaced the growth in rural population. In percentage terms, the increase in rural and urban population was 12.18% and 31.80 % respectively.
  •  Himachal Pradesh (89.96%) has the largest proportion or rural population, while Delhi (97.5%) has the highest proportional of urban population.
  •  Sex ratio in the country improved by 7 points, from 933 in 2001 to 940 in 2011. The improvement in rural areas was of one point from 946 to 947, while in urban areas, it improved by 26 points from 900 to 926. Kerala has the highest sex ratio in total (1084), rural (1077) ad urban (1091) population.
  •  Child sex ratio (0-6 age group) has dropped in the country by 13 points between 2001 and 2011 (927 to 914), In rural area, the fall was higher at 15 points (934-919), while in urban areas the fall by 4 points (906-902) Andaman and Nicobar islands has the highest child sex ratio in rural areas (975), while Nagaland has the highest in urban areas (979)
  • Literacy rate for the country as a whole was 74.04% and was 68.91% in rural areas and 84.98% in urban areas. The increase in literacy rates was 9.21 points (total)10.17 points (rural) and 5.06 points (urban)

13.4.4 Rural Urban Population

  •  Ratio of urban population to the total population of a country is an index of the level of industrialisation of that country.As industries gather momentum in a country, ratio of urban population goes on rising.
  •  India is an agricultural country, so rate of urban population is less than the rural population.

    13.4.5 Urban Population

  •  Two main causes of rise in urban population in India are
  •  Less opportunities of rural employment, low level of income in rural areas, lack of educational and training facilities in rural areas, lack of health and medical facilities etc.


State / UTSex ratio Sex ratio State / Ut    
Jammu and Kashmir892883941859Paschim Banga934947960950
Himachal Pradesh968974896908Jharkhand941947965943
Uttarakhand962963908886Madhya Pradesh919930932912
Delhi821866868866Daman and Diu710618926909
Rajasthan921926909883Darda / Nagar Haveli812775979924
Uttar Pradesh898908916899Maharashtra922925913883
Bihar919916942933Andhra Pradesh978992961943
Arunachal Pradesh893920964960Goa961968938920
Mizoram935975964971Tamil Nadu987995942946
Meghalaya972986973970Andaman and Nicobar Islands846878957966

Population (Decreasing Order of Countries)

CountryPopulation (in Million)countrypopulation
Indonesia231.5Russian Fed140.4

State wise literacy in India, 2011 Census (Decreasing order)

Rank (2011)state / UTLiteracy Rate

State wise literacy Ration in India, 2011 census (Decreasing order)

Rank (2011)State / UTLiteracy Rate
1Andhra Pradesh67.66
4Arunachal Pradesh66.95

UPSC Previous Year Questions:

1. To obtain full benefits of demographic dividend, what should India do? (CSE 2013)
a) Promoting skill development
b) Introducing more social security schemes
c) Reducing infant mortality rate
d) Privatization of higher education
2. Consider the following specific stages of demographic transition associated with economic development: (CSE 2012)
1. Low birth rate with low death rate
2. High birth rate with high death rate
3. High birth rate with low death rate
Select the correct answer using the codes given below:
a) 1, 2 and 3
b) 3, 2 and 1
c) 2, 3 and 1
d) 3, 2 and 1
3. India is regarded as a country with ‘Demographic Dividend.’ This is due to (CSE 2011)
a) its high population in the age group below 15 years

b) its high population in the age group of 15-64 years
c) its high population in the age group above 65 years
d) its high total population
4. Consider the following statements: (CSE 2009)
1. Infants within a month after birth
2. Infant mortality rate is the number of infant deaths in a particular year per 100 live births during that year.
Which of the above statements is/ are correct?
a) 1 only b) 2 only
c) both 1 and 2 d) neither 1 nor 2
5. Consider the following statements (CSE 2009)
1. Between Census 1951 and Cense 2001, the density of the population if India has increased more than three times.
2. Between Census 1951 and Census 2001 the annual growth rate (exponential) of the population of India has doubled
Which of the statements given above is / are correct?
a) 1 only b) 2 only
c) both 1 and 2 d) neither 1 nor 2
1. (a) 2. (c) 3. (b) 4. (d) 5. (d)

Share Socially