Population Density, Distribution and Growth in India –District Level Pattern, State Level Pattern of Population Growth, Migration

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District Level Pattern

  • The district level analysis reflects that there are as many as 19 districts where the growth rate is very high i.e. more than 50%. On the other hand, there are 58 districts where growth rate is very low i.e. less than 10%. Out of the 19 very high growth rate districts five belong to Nagaland and four to Delhi. Similarly, out of 58 very low growth rate districts, as many as forty districts are in the southern part of India. Out of these forty districts as many as twenty are in Tamil Nadu, eleven in Kerala, five in Andhra Pradesh, and four in Karnataka.

  • If we look at the district level pattern, it has been marked that higher growth rates are visible in almost the entire Indo-Gangetic plains extending from Haryana in the west to West Bengal in the east. High growth rates are also observed in the regions north of Satpura Ranges, spreading across the Malwa plateau, entire Rajasthan including the Great Indian Desert, Western Maharashtra and parts of North-Eastern states. On the other hand, relatively low growth rate is observed in Godavari basin, Chhattisgarh plains, Chhota Nagpur plateau, and western part of West Bengal and Orissa. Very low growth rates are observed in Punjab, Uttarakhand, and in the southern regions of the Deccan plateau.

  • Look at the table, you will find that the total population of our country (as per political frontiers today), was 238 million. By 2001, it had risen to a phenomenal figure of 1027 million. About 788 million persons were added in the last century.

The rise is of about 4.3 times since 1901. If we look at this 100 years’ population growth then, it can be broadly grouped under the following four categories:

  • Period of stagnant growth rate (before 1921): Before 1921 the increase in population was sporadic, irregular and slow. This was mainly due to high birth and death rate. Therefore, the natural growth was insignificant. In 1911-21 the absolute increase declines marginally due to famines, epidemics etc. After 1921 the population has been increasing. Therefore, 1921 is known as demographic divide in the population study of India.

  • Period of steady growth rate (1921-1951): Since 1921 to 1951 there was a steady increase in population. This is because of steady decline in death rates. The decline was mainly due to improvement in sanitation and medical facilities. Other factors which helped were development in road facilities which helped in meeting the exigencies of food shortage and substantial improvement in agricultural economy. Therefore, the population growth during this period was known as mortality induced growth.

  • Period of rapid growth rate (1951-1981): This is a very crucial phase as far as population growth of India is concerned. The population was almost doubled during these three decades. During this period there was a rapid decline in death rate whereas the decline in birth rate was marginal. The birth rate was reduced from 41.7 to 37.2 whereas death rate was reduced from 22.8 to 15.0 during this period. Therefore, the difference between birth rate and death rate was very high and as a result natural growth rate remains very high. This was due to acceleration in developmental activities further improvement in medical facilities, improvement in living conditions of the people etc. This period of growth is termed as fertility induced growth.

  • Period of declining growth rate (after 1981): In the last two decades i.e. 1981-91 and 1991-2001, the rate of growth started declining gradually. It signals the beginning of a new era in the demographic history of India. During this period birth declined significantly, from 37.2 in 1971-81 to 24.8 in 1991-2001. Whereas the decline in death rate continued in a slower rate. The death rate has declined from 15.0 to 8.9 during this period. This declining trend is a positive one and may be attributed to effective government role in promoting family welfare programmes and people’s awareness.

Annual Birth Rates, Death Rates and Natural Growth Rates 1901-2001

Annual Birth Rates, Death Rates and Natural Growth Rates 1901-2001
Title: Annual Birth Rates, Death Rates and Natural Growth Rates 1901-2001


Birth Rate per thousand

Death Rate per thousand

Natural Growth per thousand

Natural growth (in percentage)



















































State Level Pattern of Population Growth

  • The actual growth rate of population is not uniform in all parts of the country. The rate is higher in some parts than in others. The average decadal growth in the country was 21.39% during 1991-2001. If we look at inter-state differences, then it has been observed that Kerala has the lowest growth rate i.e. 9.42%, whereas the state of Nagaland has the highest growth rate of 64.41%.

  • The broad state level pattern which emerges reflects that there is a clear-cut north-south divide. All the northern and north eastern states have recorded high growth rates whereas all the southern states have low growth rates. This is mainly due to differences in the level of socio-economic development which include high literacy rates, better primary health care facilities, more urban population, more development economy etc.

Decadal Growth of Population (1991-2001)

Percentage Decadal Growth of Population (1991-2001)

Decadal Growth of Population (1991-2001)


  • The growth of population depends upon the birth rate, death rate and migration. Movement of people from one area to another area is called migration. Migration can be of a number of types. According to the nature of movement, this can be divided into permanent and temporary. Permanent migration involves movement of people from one place to the other and these people do not go back to their original place. A common example of this type of migration is provided by the movement of the people from rural to urban areas for permanent settlement. In case of temporary migration, the people move from one place to the other for some duration and then return to their original place of living. An example of this movement is migration of agricultural labourers from Bihar to Punjab and Haryana during the harvesting season is a temporary migration. Migration can be on daily basis also. A large number of people commute to the cities every day in the morning from the surrounding areas to work and they all go back in the evening. This is called daily or diurnal migration.

  • It is seen in mountainous regions that many people move from valleys to the higher reaches of mountains along with their cattle during summer and come back to the valleys during the winter. These people have their permanent homes in the valleys, and they move to the higher areas to graze their cattle there. When the higher reaches of the mountains become too cold, they come back to the lower valleys. Their annual movement is always along some fixed routes and generally their grazing areas are also fixed. This type of altitudinal migration is called transhumance. Gaddi tribes of Himachal Pradesh and Bakarwals in Jammu and Kashmir practise this type of migration.

On the basis of source of origin and destination of migrant population, migration can be divided into four types.

  • Rural to Rural

  • Rural to Urban

  • Urban to Urban

  • Urban to Rural

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