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Nepal Witnesses Historic Low in Population Growth Rate Over Past Decade

In a landmark revelation, the National Statistics Office (NSO) of Nepal has unveiled a report on demographic indicators, showcasing a significant milestone in the country’s population trends.

Over the past decade, Nepal has experienced its lowest population growth rate in 80 years, standing at a mere 0.92 percent per annum. Dhundi Raj Lamichhane, the director of NSO, emphasized the magnitude of this decline, highlighting that such a subdued growth rate hasn’t been recorded in eight decades.


Population Dynamics and Regional Variances

According to the NSO report, Nepal’s current population stands at approximately 29.2 million. Between mid-April 2011 and mid-April 2021, the population increased by 2.7 million, indicative of a relatively sluggish growth pattern. Notably, Lumbini Province emerged with the highest growth rate at 13.8 percent, underscoring regional disparities in demographic trends.


Life Expectancy and Infant Mortality Rates Show Positive Trends

Despite the subdued population growth, Nepal has witnessed remarkable improvements in life expectancy indicators. The national average life expectancy now stands at 71.3 years, marking a notable increase of 21.5 years over the past four decades. Gender-specific data reveal that males have a life expectancy of 68.2 years, while females surpass with 73.8 years. Regionally, Karnali Province boasts the highest life expectancy at 72.5 years, with women outliving men at 75.5 years. Conversely, Lumbini Province presents the lowest life expectancy at 69.5 years.

In tandem with improved life expectancy, Nepal celebrates a significant decline in infant mortality rates. From 40 per 1,000 babies in 2011, the rate plummeted to 17 per 1,000 in 2021, signifying advancements in healthcare infrastructure and maternal care practices.


Reproductive Trends and Migration Patterns

Nepal’s reproductive landscape reflects a shift towards smaller family sizes, with the reproductive rate dropping to 1.94 children per woman, below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman. This trend is further highlighted by the average age of childbirth, which stands at 26.9 years in Karnali Province and 28.4 years in Bagmati Province. This reflects changing societal norms and increased access to education and family planning resources.

In terms of internal migration, Gandaki Province emerges as the frontrunner, witnessing the highest migration rate of 4,027 people per 100,000 during the review period. Karnali Province follows closely behind, with 3,700 migrations per 100,000 population, while Bagmati Province records the lowest rate at 54 per 100,000 population.

On the international migration front, Nepal experienced a notable outflow of its population, with 3,752 individuals per 100,000 migrating abroad over five years. Sudurpashchim Province reported the highest figure at 7,359 individuals per 100,000, followed by Gandaki Province and Lumbini Province. This showcases diverse migration patterns across the country.


Implications and Future Outlook

The unprecedented low in population growth rate, coupled with positive trends in life expectancy and declining infant mortality rates, underscores Nepal’s evolving demographic landscape. These demographic shifts carry profound implications for healthcare, education, and socio-economic development. As Nepal navigates these demographic transformations, policymakers must prioritize inclusive development strategies. These should address regional disparities and leverage demographic dividends to propel sustainable growth and human development.

Nepal’s demographic trajectory reflects a multifaceted narrative of progress and challenges. The NSO report serves as a vital tool for informed decision-making and strategic planning to shape a prosperous and equitable future for all Nepalis.

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