Now the world's most populous nation, India faces a significant demographic challenge in the coming decades: aging. A recent report from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) predicts that within 30 years, one out of every five Indians will be a senior citizen.
2050: 20.8% senior citizens, 347M
According to the India Ageing Report 2023, by the year 2050, the proportion of senior citizens, aged 60 and above, is projected to reach 20.8% of the population, approximately 347 million. This marks a substantial increase from the 2022 figure of 149 million older people, which accounted for around 10.5% of the nation's population.
Even more worrying is the report’s projection that by the end of the century, the older people population in India is expected to make up over 36 per cent of the total population. This projection is also affirmed by the World Population Prospects 2022 report, which mentioned that the proportion of senior citizens will reach 36.1 per cent of the population of India by 2100, comprising more than 550 million people.
A recent report on aging in India reveals a significant demographic shift. By 2050, it is predicted that 20.8% of the population will be aged 60 and above, totalling over 347 million older people. Notably, the report also highlights a decline in the population of young people. In fact, it projects that by 2050, the elderly population in India will outnumber children aged 14 and below.
The report also points out variations across Indian states in the growth of the older population. Southern and some northern states like Himachal Pradesh and Punjab reported a higher proportion of elderly citizens than the national average in 2021, with this gap expected to widen by 2036.
Furthermore, gender disparities in aging are a concern, with older women often facing greater challenges such as poverty, widowhood, and limited financial resources. The report suggests that policies need to be designed to address the specific needs of the aging population, particularly older women.
Inadequate pandemic support for elderly
The response of government and state authorities to the needs of the elderly during the COVID-19 pandemic is also examined in the report. It highlights that while some state aid was received, it was insufficient, and there was a lack of accessible public healthcare facilities for older people. The report calls for a special focus on older persons in disaster-preparedness plans.
One significant issue noted in the report is the lack of credible data on various older-related matters in India. It recommends including relevant questions in upcoming data collection exercises to address this data gap.
The report suggests that the government should increase awareness about schemes for older persons, bring all Old Age Homes under regulatory purview, and facilitate aging in situ (at home) as much as possible, emphasizing the importance of multigenerational households.
This report provides a valuable roadmap for addressing the challenges posed by an ageing population in India. It is expected to become a crucial resource for scholars, policymakers, program managers, and stakeholders involved in elder care. It draws upon data from the 2011 Census, the 2017-18 Longitudinal Ageing Survey in India (LASI), population projections from the Government of India, and the World Population Projection 2022 report, among other sources.
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