Education ‘remains the most effective contraceptive’

Education ‘remains the most effective contraceptive’


India has recently surpassed China to become the world’s most populous country. According to United Nations estimates, India’s current population of 1.4 billion will peak at around 1.7 billion in 2064 before settling at approximately 1.53 billion by 2100.

  • Despite these staggering numbers, data indicates that population growth is slowing, with the total fertility rate falling below the replacement level of 2.1 and projected to decrease further.
  • As World Population Day approaches on July 11, experts emphasize the need to focus on ensuring the sexual and reproductive health of India’s youth.


GS-01 (Demography, Geography)


Dimensions of the Article:

  • Issues Related to Population and Reproductive Health
  • Effects on Society
  • Causes
  • How to prevent?
  • Advantages of Population for a country

Issues Related to Population and Reproductive Health

  • Unmet Needs for Family Planning: A study referencing the National Family Health Surveys (NFHS) found a significant association between years of schooling and unmet needs for family planning and spacing. Women aged 15-19 and 20-24 showed the highest demand for spacing and limiting children, highlighting the need for better access to family planning services among young women.
  • Early Marriages and Limited Agency: Many young women from backward regions marry early and lack education, limiting their ability to negotiate or discuss family planning. Social norms often dictate that newly married women must prove their fertility before considering contraception, restricting their access to necessary reproductive health services.
  • Teenage Pregnancies: India is witnessing an increase in teenage pregnancies among both married and unmarried women. Families often refuse to acknowledge that their unmarried children may be sexually active, and the lack of sex education exacerbates this issue. Globally, evidence shows that sex education can delay the sexual debut of young people and dispel misconceptions.
  • Lack of Sex Education: The absence of comprehensive sex education means that young people in India often lack accurate information about contraception and reproductive health. Cultural and social norms further inhibit access to condoms and other forms of contraception, leaving young people vulnerable to unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.
  • Qualified Right to Abortion: Abortion in India is largely criminalized except under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, which sets conditions for legal abortions. This makes access to safe and legal abortions difficult for many, particularly for those who do not meet the criteria specified in the Act.
  • Educational Interventions: Education remains the most effective tool for contraception. Efforts to educate both young people and older students about reproductive health and family planning are crucial. Targeting students in classes 11 and 12 can significantly impact their understanding and behavior regarding sexual health.

Effects on Society

  • Health Outcomes: Poor reproductive health services and limited access to contraception lead to higher rates of unintended pregnancies, maternal and infant mortality, and sexually transmitted infections.
  • Economic Impact: A large population with unmet reproductive health needs can strain public resources, healthcare systems, and social services. This can impede economic development and increase poverty rates.
  • Social Inequality: Disparities in access to reproductive health services exacerbate social inequalities, particularly affecting women from disadvantaged regions and backgrounds. This can perpetuate cycles of poverty and limit opportunities for education and employment.


  • Educational Deficiencies: Inadequate education, particularly in rural and backward regions, limits awareness and access to reproductive health services.
  • Cultural Norms: Social and cultural norms restrict open discussions about sex and contraception, making it difficult for young people to access necessary information and services.
  • Legal Barriers: Restrictive laws on abortion and limited access to safe and legal reproductive health services hinder efforts to improve reproductive health outcomes.
  • Lack of Infrastructure: Insufficient healthcare infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, limits the availability and quality of reproductive health services.

How to prevent?

  • Comprehensive Sex Education: Implementing comprehensive sex education in schools can equip young people with the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.
  • Enhancing Healthcare Access: Improving healthcare infrastructure and ensuring the availability of reproductive health services, particularly in rural areas, can help address unmet needs for family planning and contraception.
  • Legal Reforms: Reforming restrictive abortion laws and ensuring access to safe and legal reproductive health services can improve health outcomes and reduce the incidence of unsafe abortions.
  • Community Engagement: Engaging communities in discussions about reproductive health and challenging harmful social norms can help create a supportive environment for young people to access necessary services.

Advantages of Population for a country

  • Demographic Dividend: A large, young population can drive economic growth through increased labor supply and productivity, provided they have access to education and employment opportunities.
  • Market Potential: A large population creates a vast market for goods and services, driving economic activity and attracting investment.
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship: A youthful population can foster innovation and entrepreneurship, contributing to economic diversification and growth.

Suggested Measures

  • Prioritize education, particularly for girls, to ensure that all individuals have the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions about their reproductive health.
  • Invest in healthcare infrastructure and ensure the availability of reproductive health services, particularly in underserved regions.
  • Reform restrictive laws and policies to improve access to reproductive health services and ensure that they are safe, legal, and accessible to all.
  • Conduct public awareness campaigns to educate communities about the importance of reproductive health and challenge harmful social norms.
  • Foster collaboration between government, private sector, and civil society to enhance the effectiveness of reproductive health programs and services.

Way Forward

  • To address the challenges posed by a large and growing population, India must prioritize the sexual and reproductive health of its young people. This involves implementing comprehensive sex education, improving healthcare infrastructure, and reforming restrictive laws.
  • By investing in education and healthcare, engaging communities, and promoting legal and policy reforms, India can ensure that its population growth is managed in a way that promotes health, well-being, and economic development.