Convergence and Continuity in Indian Fertility: A Long-Run Perspective, 1871-2008

Aditya Singh, University of Portsmouth
Saseendran Pallikadavath, University of Portsmouth
Chris Wilson, University of St Andrews
Abhishek Singh, University of Portsmouth

Demographic transition theory is based on the assumption that powerful forces of convergence drive fertility change. In this paper we measure convergence (both beta- and sigma-convergence) between the states of India over the very long-run: from 1871 to 2008. We show that convergence so far is limited and that state-by-state differentials in total fertility are almost as great today as at any point in the last 140 years. However, it is clear that over the next decade or two there must be substantial convergence if national fertility is to fall, since fertility is now well below replacement level in many states. In addition to tracing past trends, the paper also considers what the most likely future paths are for fertility.

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Presented in Session 176: Perspectives on Fertility in Asia