Young India is ageing! Elderly population expanding at unusual rate, says UN
PTC News Desk: The elderly population in India is expanding at an unprecedented rate and may outnumber children by mid-century, according to a new UNFPA report, highlighting that young India will rapidly age in the next decades.
India has one of the world's largest populations of adolescents and young people.
According to the UNFPA's 'India Ageing Report 2023,' the share of the elderly (60 years) population is expected to rise from 10.1 percent in 2021 to 15% in 2036 and 20.8 percent in 2050 at the national level.
"By the end of the century, the elderly will constitute over 36 per cent of the total population of the country. Sharp growth in the elderly population is observed from 2010 onwards along with a decline in the age group of below 15 years, indicating rapidity of ageing in India," the report further added.
"Four years before 2050, the population size of the elderly in India will be higher than the population size of children aged 0-14 years. By that time, the population share of 15-59 years will also see a dip. Undoubtedly, the relatively young India today will turn into a rapidly ageing society in the coming decades."
Given the varying stages and pace of demographic transition between states, one distinguishing feature of ageing in India is the large interstate variation in absolute levels and increase (and thus share) of the elderly population.
As a result, there are significant differences in the age structure of the population, including the ageing experience.
Most southern regions and a few northern states, like Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, had a larger share of elderly people than the national average in 2021, with the difference predicted to expand by 2036, according to the report.
While states with higher fertility rates and slower demographic transition, such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, predict an increase in the share of the elderly population between 2021 and 2036, the level will stay lower than the Indian average, according to the report.
According to the report, India has had moderate to rapid decadal growth in its elderly population since 1961, and while the rate was plainly slower before 2001, it is anticipated to accelerate in the next decades.
"The decadal growth of the elderly population in India declined slightly from 32 per cent between 1961 and 1971 to 31 per cent in 1981-1991. Growth picked up pace during 1991-2001 (35 per cent) and is projected to shoot to 41 per cent between 2021 and 2031."
- With inputs from agencies