A significant portion of the global population is aging, and India reflects this trend. According to the United Nations Population Fund’s India Ageing Report 2023, the population aged 60 and above is projected to double from 10.5% or 14.9 crore (as of July 1, 2022) to 20.8% or 34.7 crore by 2050. This demographic shift, with one in five individuals being a senior citizen, will have implications for health, the economy, and society at large.
GS1- Population and Associated Issues
- Government Policies & Interventions
- Issues Related to Elderly
- Human Resource
As the proportion of the elderly population continues to rise, it becomes imperative to adopt proactive policies and initiatives that can effectively cater to the changing requirements of this demographic group. Examine. (15 marks, 250 words).
Elderly population across states in India:
- In certain regions like Kerala and West Bengal, there is a rising population of elderly individuals living alone as their children migrate for better opportunities.
- Significant interstate variations exist, with southern states reporting a higher share of the elderly population than the national average, and this gap is expected to widen by 2036.
- While states with higher fertility rates, such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, anticipate an increase in the elderly population, it is projected to remain lower than the national average.
Issues that elderly face:
- The increased life expectancy, coupled with declining fertility rates, poses challenges in caring for the expanding elderly population.
- Notably, women outnumber men among elderly citizens, and the life expectancy for women at 60 is higher than that of men.
- With a low labor force participation rate for women in India (24%), there is a concern that those lacking economic and social security may face increased vulnerability in old age.
- Over two-fifths of the elderly belong to the poorest wealth quintile, ranging from 5% in Punjab to 47% in Chhattisgarh. Additionally, 18.7% of the elderly have no income.
- A considerable portion of the rural population falls into the elderly category and often faces economic deprivation.
Addressing the challenges requires a comprehensive “whole-of-society” approach, encompassing physical and mental health, basic needs like food and shelter, income security, and social care. Geriatric care should be tailored to their unique healthcare needs. Although there are several schemes targeting the elderly, many are unaware of them or find the sign-up process cumbersome. Existing policies, such as the National Policy on Older Persons (1999) and the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act (2007), outline care for the elderly. However, ensuring that senior citizens live in dignity requires public and private policies to create a more supportive environment.