Why Religiog is Regarded as one of the Most Important Characteristics of Population Studies?



Among the various social characteristics of a population, religion is important, in the sense that it influences various types of demographic behaviour.

While sociologists study religion from various angles, demographers treat it as a variable when studying marriage, fertility, mortality, migration, etc. Studies which emphasise the relationship between religious affiliations and fertility behaviour are numerous.

Societal customs and practices regarding marriage are greatly influenced by the tenets of religion; hence, it becomes necessary to study age at marriage and dissolution of marriage, the practice of widow remarriage, the prevalence of polygamy, etc., in relationship to religious affiliations.

An understanding of these practices regarding marriage is important in the study of fertility, for societal fertility is affected by them. The acceptance of family planning, the status of woman and religion are all inter-related.

For the study of mortality, too, it is necessary to know the religious affiliations of the groups that are studied, for the diet of a people and their customs and practices of personal and social hygiene are greatly influenced by religion.

Even migration, internal as well as international, is greatly influenced by religion. The variable "religion" has thus come to occupy an important position in demographic analysis.

As some difficulties are experienced while collecting and classifying information on the religious affiliations of a people at the international level, this type of demographic analysis is undertaken only at national levels.

In the social structure of India religion occupies as important position and, therefore, information on religion has been collected since the inception of census operations.

Prior to independence, however, a greater emphasis was placed on this variable, and data on religious affiliation were cross-classified with other variables, such as age, sex, marital status, literacy, rural-urban residence, etc.

The earlier census reports contain a detailed discussion on various religious groups in India. The differential growth of these groups and an analysis of the reasons for such differential growth were undertaken by census scholars.

Since independence, however, in the analysis of census data emphasis has shifted from the religious to the economic aspects of the population.

A demographic analysis of religion is usually undertaken by describing the percentage distribution of the people in various religious groups. This type of analysis is done by sex and by rural- urban residence for various States and Union Territories right up to the district level.

It may be observed that the percentages of the Muslims, Christians and Sikhs have increased from 1901 to 1941. In the 1951 Census which was taken after India gained independence, it was found that the percentage of Muslims in India was nearly 10 and that of Sikhs was 1.7.

Later census operations also record increases in the percentages of the Muslims, and Sikhs in the Indian population.