INDIA, September 21, 2021 (Pew Forum): India’s fertility rate has been declining rapidly in recent decades. Today, the average Indian woman is expected to have 2.2 children in her lifetime, a fertility rate that is higher than rates in many economically advanced countries like the United States (1.6) but much lower than India in 1992 (3.4) or 1950 (5.9). Every religious group in the country has seen its fertility fall, including the majority Hindu population and Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain minority groups. Among Indian Muslims, for example, the total fertility rate has declined dramatically, from 4.4 children per woman in 1992 to 2.6 children in 2015, the most recent year for which religion data is available from India’s National Family Health Survey.

Muslims still have the highest fertility rate among India’s major religious groups, followed by Hindus at 2.1. The general pattern is largely the same as it was in 1992, when Muslims had the highest fertility rate at 4.4, followed by Hindus at 3.3. But the gaps in childbearing between India’s religious groups are generally much smaller than they used to be. India’s Muslim population has grown somewhat faster than other religious groups because of fertility differences. But due in part to declining and converging fertility patterns, there have been only modest changes in the overall religious makeup of the population since 1951, when India conducted its first census as an independent nation. Hindus made up 79.8% of India’s 1.2 billion total inhabitants in the most recent census, conducted in 2011.

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