India’s Aging Population: A Growing Challenge

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A recent report released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) sheds light on India’s demographic shift, emphasizing the rapid rise of elderly citizens and its profound implications for the nation’s health, economy, and society.

Current and Future Elderly Population

As of July 2022, India had 149 million individuals aged 60 and above, constituting approximately 10.5% of the population. However, by 2050, this demographic will double, making up 20.8% of the population, with an estimated 347 million elderly citizens.

Aging Trend Continues

The report predicts that by the end of this century, the elderly population will surge to over 36% of India’s total population, signaling a major demographic shift.

Elderly Population Overtakes Children

By 2046, the report anticipates that the elderly population in India will surpass the number of children aged 0–14, making it imperative to address the needs and challenges of the elderly.

Regional Disparities

The report highlights regional differences in the aging population. States in the southern and select northern regions have a higher share of elderly citizens than the national average. This disparity is expected to widen by 2036.

Challenges Faced by the Elderly

Elderly individuals face various challenges, including gender, ethnicity, and age-related factors. Widowed elderly women often experience isolation and health issues. Rural elderly citizens, who constitute a significant portion, grapple with income insecurity, limited access to healthcare, and isolation due to poor infrastructure

Recommendations for Addressing Aging Population Challenges

The report suggests several measures to create an enabling and supportive environment for the elderly, including raising awareness about government schemes, utilizing community-based organizations, gathering beneficiary feedback, improving health and financial security, collaborating with the private sector, enhancing disaster preparedness, and strengthening data systems on population aging.

Commitment to Elderly Well-being

UNFPA India representative Andrea M. Wojnar emphasized the significant contributions of older individuals to society and stressed the importance of ensuring their well-being.

Government’s Role

Saurabh Garg, secretary of the social justice ministry, underscored the importance of providing care and support to the elderly as India’s population continues to age.