Kerala has witnessed a sharp fall in birth rate in the first 9 months of 2021 according to data from the state’s Chief Registrar of Birth and Deaths. The number of live births was 4.80 lakh births, which dropped to 4.53 lakh in 2020. In 2021, as of 30th September, it stands at 2.17 lakh.
In 2010, the state registered 5.46 lakh live births. It went on to hit a peak of 5.6 lakh in 2011. The number of births has been on a decline since then, barring a small rise between 2016 and 2017.
If you’re wondering whether some births are going unregistered, Kerala boats of 100% registration of births in both rural and urban areas. 98.96% of these births are institutional deliveries. In 2019, around 87.03% of births in Kerala were registered within 21 days of birth.
In the first six months of 2021, the number of registered births has ranged from 27,534 in February to 32,969 in June. Since then, however, this number has averaged around 10,000. Experts on demography say that, at this rate, 2021 would witness the biggest year-on-year fall in birth figures in Kerala in the last decade. They also stated that this might have far-reaching impacts on Kerala’s demography in the future.
While falling birth rates might sound like a good prospect, that hold true only for societies where the number of resources remains static and a rise in population means more mouths to feed with existing resources. However, in a modern economy, where resources and wealth are created, a declining birth rate can be a death knell. “Everybody comes into the world with one mouth and two hands,” says economist Donald Boudreaux of George Mason University. “It’s generally true that most people produce more than they consume.”
A growing population is good for the economy as long as it leads to a rise in productivity that reduces the resources required to produce a certain amount of output. This means that a larger population would produce more wealth per person than a smaller one.