July 14, 2021

Indian states considering two-child policy and sterilization incentives

Indian states considering two-child policy and sterilization incentives

The Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Assam, and Gujarat are considering implementing a controversial two-child policy and incentivizing sterilization to control population numbers, as reported in the Guardian.

India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, controlled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has announced draft legislation which would see anyone with more than two children denied state benefits, subsidies, and government jobs. There will also be incentives once couples have two children for one parent to undergo sterilization.

The state government said the bill was due to the “limited ecological and economic resources at hand” which made it “necessary and urgent that the provision of the basic necessities of human life are accessible to all citizen.”

Assam also announced similar plans last month and Gujarat is reported to be considering the same.

Uttar Pradesh has a large population—240 million—but research shows that the state’s birth rate is falling, having almost halved between 1993 and 2016. The average number of children per mother is predicted to drop to 2.1 by 2025. A similar trend can be seen across India, with the total fertility rate having fallen in 14 out 17 states.

Twelve Indian states have already implemented two-child policies, with four since revoking them over lack of impact. Campaigners have urged the government to focus alternatively on contraception and education as a means of controlling population numbers as the controversial policies are considered to disproportionally affect women.

Wei Huang has written about policies restricting fertility in China for IZA World of Labor. The country’s one child policy (OCP) restricted the fertility of millions of couples in China for more than three decades. The policy “has had large and long-lasting impacts on many aspects of both the economy and society, though debates persist on certain topics,” says Huang. 

“It is hard to conclude whether the OCP has been good or bad in general,” he writes. “It has curbed the potentially problematic population boom in China, though researchers disagree as to how much of that should be attributed to the OCP, and it has possibly increased human capital accumulation. But, it has also brought with it problems, such as an unbalanced sex ratio, increased crime, and individual dissatisfaction toward the government.” 

Since 2010, the Chinese government has loosened its fertility restrictions. But Wei Huang warns that “[u]ntil considerable further research is done, it is difficult to extrapolate lessons from China’s experience to inform future policy decisions.”

Wei Huang’s article can be read in full here and you can explore more IZA World of Labor articles on demography, family, and gender here.