(i) Sex Ratio:

Sex ratio refers to the number of females per thousand males. India’s position is quite different than other countries.

For example the number of females per thousand males was 1170 in Russia, 1060 in U.K., 1050 in U.S.A. whereas it is 927 in India according to 1991 censes.

Table 3 illustrates that sex ratio in India was 972 per thousand in 1901 which declined to 953 in 1921 and to 950 in 1931. Again, in 1951, sex ratio further declined to 946. In 1981, sex ratio reduced to 934 against 930 per thousand in 1971. During 1991, sex ratio was recorded 927 per thousand.

The sex ratio is 933 per thousand in 2001. State wise Kerala has more females than males. There are 1040 females per thousand males. The lowest female ratio was recorded in Sikkim being 832. Among the union territories Andaman and Nicobar Islands has the lowest sex ratio i.e. 760.

Sex Ratio

(ii) Rural Urban Population:

Ratio of rural urban population of a country is an index of the level of industrialization of that country. As the industries get momentum, ratio of urban population go on increasing. As India is predominantly agricultural country, ratio of urban population is less as compared to rural population.

Rural Urban Population

Table 4 exhibits the rural-urban population since 1901. Census of 1991 reveals that about 26 per cent population i.e. about 22 more people were living in urban areas. As against it, 74 percent of the population i.e. 63 crore people were living in rural areas. It implies that in the economic life of India, role of industries is relatively less. In 1901, rural population was 89.0 percent while the urban population was 11.0 percent. In 1921 rural population reduced to 88.8% and urban population increased to 11.2%.

Further in 1951 rural population was 82.8% and urban population was 17.2%. Moreover, in 1981 rural and urban population was recorded to be 76.7% and 23.3% respectively against 74.0% and 26.0% in 1991 and 72.6% of rural and 27.4% of urban in 2001. The table 4 shows that in the last 90 years, percentage of urban population in the country has increased from 11 percent to 26 percent.


It proves that in the economic life of India, role of cities has been increasing, but progress in this direction is very slow. Compared to developed countries, number of cities and the ratio of population living in urban areas is very low. Just 26 percent of population lives in urban areas, as against 80 percent in England, f4 percent in USA, 72 percent in Japan, 60 percent in Russia and 52 percent in France.

Causes for Increase in Urban Population:

The following are the two main causes of an increase in urban population:

1. Migration Effect:


In India, rural people has to face a number of difficulties like less opportunities of employment, low level of income, lack of education facilities, lack of health and medical facilities. Thus, in order to get rid of these difficulties rural folks migrate to urban areas.

2. Attraction Effect:

Urban life has its own attraction. Rural lives are very much lured by all these temptations and decide to live in towns and cities. According to National Sample Survey, “the main causes of rural male to migrate to urban areas is employment and rural female is wedding ties.”

(iii) Age Structure:

The age structure is the indicator of the history of fertility, mortality and migration. The age structure in India since 1951 has been summarized in table 5.

Age Composition of Population in India: 1981 Census

Table 5 reveals the stability in the age distribution during 1951-81. The proportion of persons in the age group 0—14 changed very little in this period. During the census of 1961 and 1971 there is an increase in the proportion of population in this younger age group, especially due to decline in infant mortality. By 1981, despite virtual constancy of the rate of population growth during the 1960’s and 1970’s, the proportion of children in the age group 0—14 and youth-dependency ratio have declined.

This was due to the fall in the fertility rates. The proportion of the age, 60 and over, which had shown a rise by 1971, has increased a little more to an unprecedented level of 6.2 per cent. The proportion of population in the working age group 15—59 has risen between 1971 and 1981 to value higher than that reported in 1961 census. It is expected further that decline in fertility, not compensated by a fall in mortality, will lower the proportion of population in the lower age groups.

(iv) Expectation of Life:

Expectation of life refers to the average life of the inhabitants of a nation. In India expectation of life before the start of planning was very low. But since the inception of planning in India, it has started to improve steadily. For instance, in 1921 expectation of life was 19.4 years which in 1931 increased to 26.9 years. In 1951, it was 33.0 years, 52 years in 1971 and 59 years in 1991.

In 2001, expectation of life was recorded to be 63.9 years as seen in Table 6. However, Prof. A.K. Dasgupta is of the view that in the process of economic development, growth rate of population is not as much a determining factor as the expectation of life. According to him up till now the significance of expectation of life in the context of economic development has not been properly recognized. In a country like India low rate of saving is also due to low expectation of life.

Expectation of Life

(v) Literacy:

Literacy is one of the important social characteristics on which information is obtained of every individual in the census. A person aged seven and above, who can both read and write with understanding in any language is treated as literate. According to the census of 2001, the rate of literacy in India is 65.38 percent. Males rate of literacy is 75.85 percent and females rate of literacy is 54.16 percent.

The highest male literacy rate is in Kerala. It is 94.2 percent. The female literacy rate of Kerala is 88 percent which is also the highest in India. The lowest female literacy rate is in Bihar which is only 34 percent. In Punjab the female literacy rate is 63.5 percent. In Haryana, it is 56.3 percent and in Himachal Pradesh it is 58 percent. In newly created three states the highest literacy rate is in Uttaranchal. It is 72 percent. In Chhattisgarh, it is 65 percent and in Jharkhand, it is only 54 percent. It may be noted that all the states and union territories have shown increase in literacy rate during 1991-2001.