All of these indicators point in the same direction – Indian family size is shrinking faster than most people realize. It took just 14 years for the fertility rate to drop by 50% (from 3 to 2) in India, while in Bangladesh – world renowned for birth control – a similar drop took 17 years.
Lots of things to celebrate: The greatest force behind the decline in births is the increasing control women have over their lives. The percentage of women who marry before the age of 18 has halved over the past 15 years. Teenage pregnancies have more than halved and condom use has almost doubled since 2005-06. More importantly, women who report being involved in key family decisions have increased from 37% to 89% over the past 15 years. Literacy for women, more than literacy for men or general poverty reduction, plays a key role in keeping families smaller and healthier.