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Population Growth, Fertility, and Religion in India

This paper first addresses the issue of religious differentials in population growth in India and then examines differentials in fertility. Analysis of data from the second National Family Health Survey shows that differences in fertility, especially between Hindus and Muslims, are not explained by differences in socio-economic characteristics, as argued by many observers. This is true of differentials in contraceptive practice as well. However, the differences appear to be a passing phase in the process of fertility transition. Since all religious communities in India have experienced substantial fertility declines and contraceptive practice has been well accepted, it is expected that fertility levels among communities would converge over time.

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