Population: In sociology, population means collection of human beings.

Demography: It is a branch of social science which deals with statistical study of human population.

Census: An official enumeration of population which is done periodically is called census. The first census in India was conducted in 1872, but the first complete census was conducted in 1881. After that, the census has been done every ten years.


According to 2011 census, the population of India is 1.21 billion.

India’s population is 17.5% of the world population, while the area of India is just 2.4% of the total area of the world.

Population Density: The population density in India is 382 persons per sq km. Bihar has the highest population density which is 1102 persons per sq km. Arunachal Pradesh has the least population density which is 17 persons per sq km. About 50% of India’s population lives in the five states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Rajasthan which is the biggest state comprises just 5% of the population of India.

The level land and highly fertile grounds of the northern plains are conducive for much of human activities and hence these areas are densely populated. Similarly, the coastal plains of Tamil Nadu and Kerala are densely populated. On the other hand, a major part of Rajasthan is covered with sandy desert and hence has less population density. Similarly, the uneven terrain of hilly areas is not fit to support a huge population.

Population Growth and Process of Population Change:

The population growth in 2011 over the 2001 census has been 9.3% and India ranks 93rd in the world on this aspect. This means that the population growth in the last decade has been a little less than 2% per annum. This is less than the population growth between 1991 and 2001. This is a positive sign that the growth rate is showing a declining trend.

Birth Rate: The number of live births per 1000 persons is called the birth rate. According to 2011 census, the birth rate in India is 20.22 births per 1000 persons.

Death Rate: The number of deaths per 1000 persons is called the death rate. According to 2011 census, the death rate in India is 7.4 deaths per 1000 persons.

A higher birth rate coupled with a lower death rate results in an increase in population. Because of advancements in healthcare and nutrition, the death rate has reduced over the period. The birth rates have also reduced because of sustained campaign towards family planning and increased awareness among people. Yet the birth rate needs to be reduced even further.

Migration: Migration is another factor which changes the size of population. Movement of people from one place to another; in search of livelihood is called migration. Migration within the country is called internal migration, while that between two countries is called international migration. Internal migration has no change on population size but it changes the population composition of a particular area.

Reasons for Migration: Poverty and lack of employment opportunities in rural areas work as ‘push’ factors which result in migration to urban areas. Better employment opportunities in urban areas work as ‘pull’ factors for migration. Due to increased migration towards urban areas, the share of urban population has increased from 17.29% in 1951 to 27.78% in 2001.

Life Expectancy:

The average age upto which the people are expected to live is called life expectancy. At the time of independence, the life expectancy was a little above 40 years. It is improved significantly and as per 2011 census, the life expectancy in India is 68.89 years. What is more important is a better life expectancy among females (72.61 years) compared to that in males (67.46 years). The number of ‘million plus cities’ has increased from 23 to 35 between 1991 and 2001.

Literacy Rate

The literacy rate has increased from 65% in 2001 to 74% in 2011. But the literacy rate among females is still lower compared to that among males. This can be attributed to providing less opportunity to the girls.

Sex Ratio: The ratio of female to male population is called sex ratio. The sex ratio has shown a decline from 933 in 2001 to 914 female per 1000 male in 2011. Kerala has the best sex ratio (1084); while Haryana (879) and Delhi (868) have the worst sex ratios.

Age Composition

Pie chart age profile Indian population

The composition of different age groups in the Indian population is often taken as one of the most positive indicators of population in India.

Children: People upto 14 years of age are considered as children. As per 2011 census, children (0-14 years) comprised 31.1% of the population. Children do not form the economically productive part of the population. They need support; in the form of nutrition, healthcare and education.

Working Age: People between 15 to 59 years of age are considered as working population. The percentage of this age group is very high at 63.6% of the population; according to 2011 census. This means that India has the major section of its population in the working age group. People of this age group are economically productive and provide sustenance to people of other age groups.

Aged: People who are 60 years and above are considered as aged. Most of them retire from active life and do not remain economically productive. The percentage of this age group in the Indian population is about 5%. People of this age group need care in terms healthcare and nutrition. A smaller percentage of this age group means there least burden of old age care.

Occupational Structure: About 64% of the workforce is engaged in the primary sector, 13% in the secondary sector and 20% in the tertiary sector. This shows that there is still heavy dependence on the primary sector for employment. While the secondary and tertiary sectors have grown their share to the GDP, this growth is not matched with employment generation.

Health: Increase in life expectancy and decrease in death rate can be attributed to improved healthcare system in India. Infant mortality rate has also declined which has happened because of improved post natal care. The government has introduced vaccination programmes for various diseases; which are available for free in government hospitals. Improved sanitation has also helped in preventing infant mortality. However, the situation of healthcare is still a big concern. Many remote villages do not have access to medical facilities.

Adolescent Population: Adolescents comprise the age group between 10 to 19 years. People of this age group require a higher level of nutrition. They are the future of the country, so more attention needs to be given to them. Malnutrition is a major problem for this age group; especially among the girls. Free iron tablets are distributed from government hospitals to reduce the incidence of anemia among adolescent girls.

NPP 2000 and Adolescent Population: NPP 200 has put special emphasis on the adolescent population. Focus is given to special nutritional needs of the adolescents. Awareness programmes are conducted to increase awareness about STDs, unwanted pregnancies, child marriage, risks of unprotected sex, etc.

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