NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 28: Signalling the “rapidity of aging in India”, a new UN report has highlighted the sharp growth in elderly population from 2010 onwards along with a decline in the age group of those below 15 in a country which has currently the largest cohort of the young. Going by projections, in 2046, India’s population of the elderly will be higher than the population size of children between 0-14 years and there will be a dip in numbers of those between 15 to 59 years.
Citing this data, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in the ‘India Aging Report 2023’ released on Wednesday highlights that “undoubtedly, relatively young India today will turn into a rapidly aging society in the coming decades”. The report highlights that there are 14.9 crore persons aged 60 years and above in 2022 (as on July 1), comprising around 10.5% of the country’s population. But this is estimated to increase to 15% (around 22.7 crore) by 2036.
By 2050, the share of older persons will go up to 20.8% (34.7 crore). That will make 1 in every 5 individuals an elderly person. By the end of the century, the elderly will constitute over 36% of the total population of the country. The UNFPA analysis shows that a distinguishing feature of aging is the significant interstate variation in absolute levels and growth and hence, share of the elderly population. For instance, most of the Southern States and select Northern States such as Himachal and Punjab reported a higher share of elderly population than the national average in 2021, a gap that is expected to widen by 2036.
As per the “aging index”, there are 39 older persons per 100 children in India as per the 2021 population estimates and Southern and Western Indian States reflect higher aging when compared to Central and Northeastern states. Most of the States in Southern region and select Northern States such as Himachal Pradesh and Punjab reported a higher share of the elderly population than the national average in 2021, a gap that is expected to widen by 2036.
The report puts out data on old age dependency ratio reflecting the levels of demand for care from immediate family. Population projections indicate that in 2021, there were 16 older persons per 100 working-age persons in India, with significant variations across regions. Here too in the Southern region, the old-age dependency ratio was higher than the national average. In a section on “aging of the aged”, the report states that projections indicate that during 2022-2050, population of India will grow by 18%, while older population will grow by 134%. During the same time period, population of persons aged 80+ years will grow 279%. (TNN)