Alarming: Birth rate of Muslims on the rise in Kerala

Courtesy:  TOI

The Muslim birth rate in the state has been rising steadily, while the birth rate of Hindus and Christians has marked a decline, an analysis of vital statistics report prepared by economics and statistics department reveal.

As per the vital statistics report 2015, out of the total 5,16,013 live births in the state, 42.87% belong to Hindu community , 41.45% to Muslim community and 15.42% to Christian community .
The percentage birth rate of Muslims has increased from 35 in 2006 to 41.45 in 2015. Hindu community which recorded a birth rate of 46% in 2006 has dropped to 42.87% in 10 years. Christian birth rate, which has always been below 20%, slumped to 15.42% in 2015 from 17% in 2006.

Over the span of nine years, Muslim birth rate has dropped only twice. In 2007, it slipped from 35% (2006) to 33.71%. The rate then shows a steady climb before dropping in 2012 when the birth rate fell from 38.21% (2011) to 31.96%. Between 2010 and 2011, there was only a marginal variation in Muslim birth rates as it changed from 38.26% (2010) to 38.21% in 2011. The Hindu birth rate has been on a downward slide from 2006 to 2012. It dropped from 46% in 2006 to 38.99% in 2012.In 2013, the rate climbed to 44.08% but declined to 42.87% by 2015. The highest birth rate recorded by Christians between 2006 and 2015 was in 2012 when the birth rate touched 18.63%.

P Mohanachandran Nair, professor and head of department of demography , University of Kerala says child population in the state also follow this trend. Between 2001 and 2011, the Hindu child population percentage aged between 0-14 decreased from 50.6 to 48.3. During the same period, the Muslim child population increased from 31.6% to 34.5%. The Hindu child population between 0-4 years also dropped from 50.9% to 46.7% while Muslim child population in the same age group grew from 31.2% to 37.3%, he said.

S Irudaya Rajan, professor, Centre for Development Studies (CDS) and demographic expert said that rise in birth rate among Muslims is reflective of qualitative data registration process. “It indicates that more and more Muslim women are registering their births unlike the past.But the growth rate will even out in future,” he said.

Social commentator and writer M N Karassery said one probable reason could be the status of Muslim women who face several restrictions while accessing higher education or pursuing own careers.

In terms of birth order, Hindu birth rate is always higher than that of Mus lims in case of first and second deliveries as per the data between 2010 and 2015. According to 2015 data, the Hindu birth rate for first delivery was 22.31% while that of Mus lims was 15.36%. The birth rate of Hindus for second delivery was 17.63% while that of Muslims stood at 14.34%. While Hindu birth rate for third, fourth and fifth deliveries are 2.23%, 0.23% and 0.09% respectively, the Muslim birth rate shows an upward trend, registering rates of 8.32%, 2.38% and 0.85% respectively . In case of Christians, the birth rates have never grown at robust pace.

In first and second deliveries in 2015, Christian birth rates were 7.06% and 1.67% respectively . For third, fourth and fifth deliveries, the birth rates match Hindu birth rates.
The percentage distribution of live births by age of mother and religion between 2010 and 2015 shows that Muslims recorded higher birth rates for younger mothers aged between 15 and 24 when compared to Hindu and Christian communities.