Unplanned pregnancies are down in India, meaning general quality of life is on the up, according to The Print.
Research published by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in the “State of World Population 2018”report released Wednesday, found the country’s fertility rate was 2.3 children per women between 2015 and 2020, compared to 4.97 between 1975 and 1980.
The report cited greater support for reproductive rights and girls’ access to education as the reason.
The decline is a big deal, considering India is projected to become the most populated country in the world by 2025.
Significant jumps in fertility rates are usually rare in developing countries, and often coincide with higher incomes, but improved general health and a lower child mortality rate has done wonders. On average, a child born in a low-income country is 11 times more likely to die before the age of 5.
Economic development and reduced poverty also lowered infant and child mortality rates in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, and Turkey.
Read More: Is birth control the key to ending poverty?
Not only could the fertility shift boost India’s economic growth, but there’s a chance it’ll guarantee health, education, and employment for all.
#FertilityMatters in every part of the world. Why? Because it reflects how well couples and individuals have the power to choose whether, when or how often to have children.— UNFPA (@UNFPA) October 17, 2018
See how the #PowerOfChoice can change the world in our new #SWOP2018 report: https://t.co/kKGP8AWT09pic.twitter.com/ukdM4h4J9G
On the surface, the decline looks promising, but the fertility rate might not be able to sustain itself from generation to generation, and still varies from state to state.
Young women who are roped into child marriage, a very common practice in the country, don’t always get the opportunity to make family planning decisions for themselves. In 2011, 21.5% of Indian girls between 15 and 19 were married, according to UNFPA.
On a larger scale, the world’s population is set to grow by 2.2 billion between 2018 and 2050, according to the UN. That growth is expected to be most visible in sub-Saharan Africa, where the population is set to reach 1.3 billion because women are subject to gender discrimination, and don’t receive the health care or education they need. In the US, a high number of pregnancies are still unplanned, amounting to as many as 45% of the 6.1 births annually, according to CBS.
Fertility rates also tend to be higher in conflict zones. The report found this to be true in Afghanistan, Palestine, Timor-Leste and Yemen, where it’s at 2.5 on average.
“In developing countries, 671 million women have chosen to use modern contraception. But at the same time, we know that 250 million in the developing world want to control their fertility, and lack access to modern contraceptive methods,” UNFPA Geneva Chief Monica Ferro said.
In order to lower fertility rates, UNFPA recommends countries make an effort to prioritize universal health care and education that provides sex education to ensure women know what their contraceptive options are.