Census 2011 data released last Friday shows that in India, nearly 340 million married women and the average number of children was 3.3, down from 3.8 in 2001 and 4.3 in 1991. Current mothers, who were deprived of education in their early life and have remained illiterate, had 3.8 children on average. At the other extreme, mothers with a graduate degree or above had just 1.9 children. That’s half the number of children compared to illiterate mothers.
Mothers who have not studied beyond class 8 (middle school) have three children on an average, those who dropped out between middle and high school had 2.8 children and those who had studied between class 10 and graduation restricted their children to 2.3. The rates of decline between 1991 and 2001 were 14% for mothers who studied up to middle school but between 2001and 2011this decline was more at 18%. It was a similar situation for other educational levels.
The Census data also shows that there are still nearly 96 million illiterate married women who are in the child bearing age, that is, 15-49 years. And there also are about 16 million married women in the same age group that have not studied beyond primary level. Presumably , they are yet untouched by the wider trend of having less children.