How delaying marriage and spacing births contributes to population control: an explanation with illustrations.

Rajaretnam T
JOURNAL OF FAMILY WELFARE. 1990 Dec; 36(4):3-13.

This article on controlling India's population growth focuses on the effective influence of the timing of births and delaying marriage. Not only does the delaying of marriage have a considerable and independent impact on population growth but it also improves maternal and child health. Policies and programs should encourage postponement of marriage of girls and spacing between births through temporary family planning methods, prolonged breastfeeding, and induced abortion. The population grew at an increasingly higher rate until it stabilized during 1971-81 at 2.28%. The death rate declined to 15/1000 population in 1971-81, as well as the birth rate to 37.2. The difference between the birth and death rates is 22.2 points for 11971-81 versus 6.6 points in 1901-10. Population growth is determined by the number of children/women of childbearing age, and the age of the woman at birthing. It has been found that subfecundity has a lower net effect on the birth of the 1st child than marriage. A hypothetical example is given to explicate the effect of delayed childbearing and birth spacing on population growth. A fertility schedule is set up for 4 groups of women: 1 group marrying at 17 years and another marrying at 20 years with each having 1) a birth interval of 2 years between marriage and first child and 3 years between each of the 3 succeeding children, and 2) a birth interval of 3 years and a 5 year spacing between births. Life expectancy is 55 years. Assuming 2 male and 2 female children/woman, a life cycle analysis is set up and graphed with year 0 for birth, procreation, and death at 55 years. The population strength in each group at year 100 is generated in chart and graph form. The surviving population varies between groups. A 3 year delay in marriage produced a decline of 14 persons (53 to 39) for birth intervals of 2,3 3.3 years between the 4 successive births. The population decline is thus 26.4% and 37.5% respectively. Delayed marriage does not an effect on population growth. An increase in birth interval from a 17-year-old age at marriage from 2,3,3.3 to 3,5,5.5 years yielded a decline of 13 persons (53 to 40). For a 20- year-old age at marriage and the same change in birth spacing, the decline was 14 persons (39 to 25). The resulting population decline was 24.5% and 35.9% respectively. Birth spacing increases without a change in family size contributed to the decline, and a combination of delay with spacing means a decline of 53%. A delay in marriage age is more effective in creating decline than a delay of 7 years in birth spacing.

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