Macro Economic Profile


As per the final data published by the Directorate of Census, Kerala's population as on March 2011 was 33,406,061. Out of this 16,027,412 (48 per cent) were men and 17,378,649 (52 per cent) were women.

The decadal growth rate of Kerala’s population is estimated at 4.9 per cent, the lowest among Indian States, whereas the national rate of growth of population during the last ten years is 17.6 per cent (Figure 1.1). The population growth trend shows that Kerala is moving towards zero population growth or even negative population growth. Among all the districts, Malappuram has the highest growth rate of 13.4 per cent, and Pathanamthitta has the lowest growth rate (- 3.0 per cent). Idukki also has a negative growth rate (-1.8 per cent). The growth rate of population is lowest in the 6 southern districts (Idukki, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Kollam, Pathanamthitta and Thiruvananthapuram).

Figure 1.1
Decadal Growth of Population in India and Kerala 1901-2011, in per cent

Source: Census of India 2011

Kerala's total child population (0-6 years) in 2011 was 3,472,955 compared to 3,793,146 in 2001. That is, Census data reveal a negative growth rate of child population in the state (-8.44 per cent). The percentage of child population in total population also shows a declining trend in Kerala. The child population represented 10 per cent of the total population in 2011 while it was 12 per cent as per 2001 census. Figure 1.2 shows district-wise percentage of child population in Kerala in 2001 and 2011. The highest proportion of child population was in Malappuram district and lowest was in Pathanamthitta. The proportion of child population in the State decreased in all the districts between 2001 and 2011. All the southern districts show a 2 per cent decline except Kollam, which had a decline of 1 per cent in the proportion of child population. All the northern districts show a 1 per cent decline in the proportion of child population except Wayanad, which had a decline of 2 per cent. It shows that new addition to population in northern districts is faster than in the southern districts. Details are in Appendix-1.1.

Figure 1.2
Percentage of child population in total population in Kerala, in per cent

Source : Census 2001, 2011


Kerala has the highest effective literacy rate of 94 per cent among Indian states as per 2011 census. It was 90 per cent during 2001 census. Kottayam tops in the literacy chart with 97.2 per cent and Pathanamthitta is just behind with 96.5 per cent. Wayanad has the lowest literacy rate of 89 per cent and Palakkad is just above with 89.3 per cent. Even the lowest literacy rate of Wayanad (89) is higher than national literacy rate (72 per cent). The difference between the lowest and the highest value is just 8.2. As compared to 2001, literacy rate of all the districts has improved. Details are in Appendix-1.2.

Sex Ratio

The sex ratio (number of females per thousand males) of Kerala according to Census 2011 is 1084 and has improved by 26 points from 2001. The sex ratio of India is 943 in 2011. Among the districts, Kannur has the highest sex ratio (1136) followed by Pathanamthitta (1132). While Idukki has the lowest sex ratio (1006), Ernakulam is just above with 1027. All districts have index above 1000. In 2001, only Wayanad had the index score below 1000 (994). The difference between the lowest (Idukki, 1006) and highest (Kannur, 1136) is 130 points. Details are in Appendix 1.1.

Child Sex Ratio (0-6 Years)

Child sex ratio in Kerala is 964 as per the 2011 census. It was 960 in 2001. Pathanamthitta has the highest ratio (976) followed by Kollam (973) and Kannur (971). While, Thrissur has the lowest score of 950, and Alappuzha is just above with a ratio of 951. All the districts have the ratio below 1000. When analysing the decadal change, the highest gain is for Kollam (13) followed by Kozhikode with a score of 10. All other districts have the score below 10 points. Thrissur (-8), Idukki (-5) and Alappuzha (-5) have negative decadal change in sex ratio. Details are in Appendix 1.1.

Density of Population

As per 2011 census, the density of population in Kerala is 860 persons/ It is much higher than the all India level of 382. Thiruvananthapuram is the most densely populated district (1508), while Idukki is the least densely populated district (255). Density of population has increased in all districts compared to 2001 census except for Pathanamthitta (-16) and Idukki (-4). Details are in Appendix 1.2.

District-wise distribution of population

District wise distribution of population in Kerala during the last four census indicates that Malappuram district has the largest share of population (12.3 per cent) followed by Thiruvananthapuram (9.9 per cent) and Ernakulam (9.8 per cent). Thrissur and Kozhikkode follow with 9 per cent. Wayanad continues to be home to the smallest share of population (2.4 per cent) while Idukki, Kasargode and Pathanamthitta have a low share of 3-4 per cent. It is evident that for the last 40 years (from 1981 to 2011), there is no major change in the distribution of population across districts. Details are in Appendix 1.2.

Age Group Distribution

The analysis of the age group distribution of population shows that the proportion of population in the age group of (0-14 years) declined from 43 per cent in 1961 to 23 per cent in 2011. In the case of the working age group (15-59 years), the proportion is increasing at a declining rate. Due to increasing life expectancy and availability of health facilities, the proportion of population in the old age group (60 years and above) increased from 6 per cent in 1961 to 13 per cent in 2011 (Figure 1.3).

Figure 1.3
Age Group Distribution in Kerala, 1961-2011, in per cent

Source : Census 1961, 1971, 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2011

The increasing trend of population in the working age group (15-59) is favourable for the economy. However, the declining trend in the age group of 0-14 (the feeder category) is a matter of concern. Similarly, increase in the number in the age group of 60 and above puts pressure on the State to provide adequate social security measures.