Studies on the causes of maternal mortality in India have focused on institutional deliveries, and the association of socioeconomic and demographic factors with the decline in maternal mortality has not been sufficiently investigated. By using both time series and cross-sectional data, this paper examines the factors associated with the decline in maternal mortality in India. Relative effects estimated by OLS regression analysis reveal that per capita state net domestic product (−1.49611, p<0.05), poverty ratio (0.02426, p<0.05), female literacy rate (−0.05905, p<0.10), infant mortality rate and total fertility rate (0.11755, p<0.05) show statistically significant association with the decline in the maternal mortality ratio in India. The Barro-regression estimate reveals that improvements in economic and demographic conditions such as growth in state income (β=0.35020, p<0.05) and reduction in poverty (β=0.01867, p<0.01) and fertility (β=0.02598, p<0.05) have a greater association with the decline in the maternal mortality ratio in India than institutional deliveries (β=0.00305). The negative β-coefficient (β=−0.69578, p<0.05), showing the effect of the initial maternal mortality ratio on change in maternal mortality ratio in the Barro-regression model, indicates a greater decline in maternal mortality ratio in laggard states compared with advanced states. Overall, comparing the estimates of relative effects, the socioeconomic and demographic factors have a stronger statistically significant association with the maternal mortality ratio than institutional deliveries. Interestingly, the weak association between ‘increase in institutional deliveries' and ‘decline in maternal mortality ratio’ suggests that merely increasing deliveries alone will not help in ensuring maternal survival in India. Quality of services provided by the health facility, birth preparedness and avoiding delay in reaching health facility are also important. Deliveries in health facilities will not necessarily translate into increased survival chances of mothers unless women receive full antenatal care services and delays in reaching health facility are avoided.