According to a report titled 'impact of mortality and fertility transitions in Kerala on migration and its implications for state's economy', Kerala is currently experiencing an advanced demographic transition, as the mortality and fertility levels have come down.
The report was compiled by a team led by noted demographer S Irudaya Rajan of the Centre for Development Studies in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. It was released on May 14, 2018.
The report states that migration plays a critical role in shaping Kerala’s demographic scenario in the future.
• Kerala was the first Indian state to achieve Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) below 25 in 1989, and it was further reduced to 10 in 2016. On the other hand, the infant mortality rate of India was 34 in 2016.
• Besides IMR, the study showed that significant strides were also made by Kerala in improving life expectancy at birth.
• During 1951-60, the male and female life expectancies at birth for Kerala were 44.2 years and 48.1 years respectively, which increased to 72.2 years and 78.2 years during 2011-15.
• With the significant fall in levels of mortality, the fertility levels have also come down considerably in Kerala.
• The state was the first in India to achieve below replacement level fertility in 1987 and it has further dropped to 1.6, while India is yet to achieve this demographic milestone even during 2015-16.
• However, the population of Kerala has doubled from 16.9 million in 1961 to 33.4 million in 2011.
• The age-specific growth rates too have significantly declined in line with the overall population growth rates in the state, with an exception of population of 60 years and above.
• The study revealed that negative growth rates were observed in the case of young population (0-14 years) during the past three decades.
Impact on migration in Kerala
• According to the report, the mortality and fertility changes accompanied by a host of social determinants facilitate inward and outward migration in the state.
• International migration from Kerala was initially directed towards a few South Asian countries.
• By 1960, the people of the state found a place in South Asian nations such as Malaysia and Singapore, countries in the African region and also developed nations in North America and Western Europe.
• The oil boom in the Middle East triggered heavy migration from Kerala to the gulf countries.
• The number of international migrants peaked during 2013 with 2.4 million migrants from Kerala living outside the country. The number then declined to 2.2 million in 2016.
• During 1961-81, most of the migrants from Kerala moved within India, as there was a significant outflow of persons from Kerala to metropolitan cities such as Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi and other states.
• The report states that as a consequence, there will be a further decline in the international migration from Kerala to the traditional destinations.
• It states that ageing of the population and decline in the number of people in the migration-prone age groups are also likely to accentuate this downward trend.
• It further adds that the rate of growth of Kerala's native population will start declining within a decade.
• The fertility and mortality indicators of the native population have already reached near saturation levels and migration is reported to be the only component that can significantly alter the emerging population scenario in Kerala.