India is greying faster than previous projections, even though it fares better than other Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries and China.
The government has informed the Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament) that the number of elderly aged above 60 will rise to around 340m by 2050, according to a report in Times of India.
The number, revealed by minister of state for health Anupriya Patel, is higher than projections made by United Nations and other agencies, which also predict that the elderly population will grow much faster than the overall population with more old “widowed and highly dependent women”.
The UN projected the 60 plus population to grow to 316.8m by 2050, whereas estimates by HelpAge India pegged the number at 324m. In either case, the official projection presents a significantly higher number of elderly persons in the population.
Mr Patel said that the growth rate of the 0-14 population is slowing but that of older persons is rising. During 2000–2050, the total population of India is expected to grow by 56% while the 60-plus population will increase by 326%. During the same period, the 80-plus population will grow 700% with a predominance of widowed and highly dependent very old women.
While India is expected to report around 19% elderly by 2050, the absolute numbers will be very large. Yet India will be better off than China which is expected to report 34% population above 60 by 2050.In addition, the number of elderly people in China is expected peak at 487m in 2050.
Within the Saarc region, Bangladesh (22.4%), Bhutan (24.1%), Maldives (31.2%) and Sri Lanka (27.4%) are estimated to overshoot the Saarc average of 21% by 2050.