Sex Ratio in India

Sex Ratio in India
Posted on 22-08-2023

Understanding and Addressing Sex Ratio Disparities

The sex composition of a population is a fundamental demographic attribute that reflects underlying socio-economic and cultural trends. It serves as a key indicator for assessing gender equity and influences various demographic factors such as mortality, migration, and economic characteristics. Expressed as a sex ratio, it represents the number of females per 1000 males in a population. Deviations from a balanced sex ratio of 1000 indicate disparities between genders.

Sex Ratio Variations

Sex ratio disparities arise from multiple factors. Differences in mortality rates and life expectancies contribute, with women generally outliving men. Biases in sex ratios at birth also exist, favoring male births due to biological factors. Migration patterns can further impact sex ratios when male-dominant labor migration occurs.

Sex Ratio in India

As of the 2011 Census, India's overall sex ratio stood at 943, with 623.7 million males and 586.4 million females among a population of 1.21 billion. Factors like male-biased births, historical practices of female infanticide and feticide, along with the preference for male children, have led to the skewed sex ratio. Legislation like the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act aims to counter sex-selective practices, but challenges in enforcement persist.

Regional Patterns

From 1951 to 2011, rural India's sex ratio declined from 965 to 946, while urban India's increased from 860 to 929. At the national level, the sex ratio declined from 946 in 1951 to 943 in 2011. Some states saw significant improvements, like Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Delhi, Assam, and West Bengal, while others experienced declines, including Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, and Goa.

State-level Disparities

The state-wise sex ratio varied widely. Haryana reported the lowest sex ratio at 879, while Kerala had the highest at 1084. Union territories showed even more disparity, with Puducherry at 1037 and Daman and Diu at 618. Puducherry and Lakshadweep were exceptions with sex ratios above 900. Age-wise, sex ratios in 2011 were 918 for 0-6 years, 908 for 0-19 years, 944 for 15-45 years, and 1033 for 60+ years.

Child Sex Ratio

The child sex ratio (0-6 years) declined from 927 in 2001 to 918 in 2011. Arunachal Pradesh had the highest at 972, while Haryana had the lowest at 834. Son preference, inheritance beliefs, dowry demands, and easy access to sex determination tests contributed to the decline. The child sex ratio impacts marriage patterns and women's status, resulting in higher violence against women.

Consequences and Solutions

Low child sex ratios lead to violence against women, skewed marriage patterns, and reduced female representation in public life. Measures to address this include legal bans on sex determination, initiatives like the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme, and campaigns promoting gender sensitization and women's education and economic empowerment.

Union minister Smriti Irani informed the Lok Sabha that the sex ratio at birth in the country has shown a positive change. According to her, the ratio has seen an improvement of 15 points, increasing from 918 in 2014-15 to 933 in 2022-23. This improvement is attributed to the impact of the 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' initiative, which has worked to raise awareness and alter societal perspectives regarding the rights of girls. The scheme has highlighted concerns regarding the decreasing child sex ratio in India, and its influence is evident in the rise of the sex ratio at birth by 15 points nationally, showcasing a progression from 918 in 2014-15 to 933 in 2022-23.

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