India's elderly population, or those who are 60 years or more, is likely to increase by three times to around 300 million by 2050, says a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report released this week.
The share of the population over the age of 60 is projected to increase from 8% in 2015 to 19% in 2050.
The report, titled “Caring for Our Elders: Early Responses: India Ageing 2017”, stresses the need to start planning for the demographic change.
The findings include:
- Projections indicate that during 2000–2050, the overall population of India will grow by 56% while the population 60-plus will grow by 326%. During the same period, the population 80-plus will grow 700% with a predominance of widowed and highly dependent very old women.
- The sex ratio of the elderly has increased from 938 women to 1,000 men in 1971 to 1,033 in 2011 and is projected to increase to 1,060 by 2026. A frequent outcome of the feminisation of ageing is the discrimination and neglect experienced by women as they age, often exacerbated by widowhood and complete dependence on others. Loss of spouse in old age adds significant vulnerability in later years. Elderly women will be more vulnerable than men in terms of needs such as housing, safety and finance.
- A higher proportion of the elderly lives in rural areas than in urban areas. Many rural areas are still remote with poor road and transport access. Income insecurity, lack of adequate access to quality health care and isolation are more acute for the rural elderly than their urban counterparts.
In a separate report, IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform, says that around 200 million or over 61% of the elderly in India will lack income security by 2050, if pension arrangements continue to cover only 35% of senior citizens as they do today. By 2050, 324 million Indians, or 20% of the population, will be above 60 years of age.