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Provisional results of the 2011 Census of India: Slowdown in growth, ascent in literacy, but more missing girls


  • Arokiasamy Perianayagam
  • Srinivas Goli


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to compare the new Census 2011 results with the results of the previous Censuses and assess the progress in trends of population growth, literacy rate, and sex ratio imbalance and also to highlight the critical socioeconomic issues based on short-term trends and patterns. Design/methodology/approach - The paper is structured in a “commentary and perspective” format. The paper assesses key demographic and socioeconomic features of India's population using 2011 Census data, and compares progress in population and social trends with the results of previous Censuses. The paper also uses data from the National Family Health Survey (2005-2006) and the United Nations World Population Prospects (2008) to complement Census results and understand the underlying reasons for the progress or deterioration in critical demographic and socioeconomic indicators. Findings - The provisional results of the 2011 Census data reveal a mixed bag of insights. On the positive side, there has been steady progress in population stabilization and a swift ascent in female literacy since 1991. These encouraging trends, among others, represent major driving forces of demographic and economic returns for India in the coming decades. However, on the negative side, the 2011 Census reveals a deplorable deterioration in the female-male ratio of the child population aged 0-6 years, despite India's enforcement of targeted policy measures following the 2001 Census. The country needs to take careful stock of this issue, as its advancing demographic transition and changing socioeconomic circumstances are rapidly translating into an adverse trend of girl child discrimination. Originality/value - This study compares India's most recent two Censuses and provides original analytical insights into India's progress in population stabilization and development, and the setbacks it faces in terms of gender inequalities. Region and state-wise analyses are additional contributions based on disaggregated state level data from the recent two Censuses.

Suggested Citation

  • Arokiasamy Perianayagam & Srinivas Goli, 2012. "Provisional results of the 2011 Census of India: Slowdown in growth, ascent in literacy, but more missing girls," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 39(10), pages 785-801, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:ijsepp:v:39:y:2012:i:10:p:785-801

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bloom, David E. & Canning, David & Hu, Linlin & Liu, Yuanli & Mahal, Ajay & Yip, Winnie, 2010. "The contribution of population health and demographic change to economic growth in China and India," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 17-33, March.
    2. Shelley Clark, 2000. "Son preference and sex composition of children: Evidence from india," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 37(1), pages 95-108, February.
    3. Monica Das Gupta, 2005. "Explaining Asia's "Missing Women": A New Look at the Data," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 31(3), pages 529-535.
    4. repec:cai:poeine:pope_406_0831 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Christophe Z. Guilmoto, 2009. "The Sex Ratio Transition in Asia," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 35(3), pages 519-549.
    6. Monica Das Gupta & Woojin Chung & Li Shuzhuo, 2009. "Evidence for an Incipient Decline in Numbers of Missing Girls in China and India," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 35(2), pages 401-416.
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