New Delhi: India is greying faster than previously projected, even though it fares better than other Saarc countries and China.
The government has disclosed that the number of people above 60 will rise to around 340 million by 2050.
The number, revealed by junior minister for health Anupriya Patel in the Lok Sabha, is higher than projections made by the United Nations (UN) 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 316.8 million by 2050, whereas estimates by HelpAge India pegged the number at 324 million.
Patel told the Lok Sabha on Friday that the growth rate of the 0-14 population is slowing but that of older people is rising.
The age distribution of India’s population is more even as compared to China which has been skewed by the one-child policy resulting in a smaller and declining working age citizenry.
“India Ageing Report 2017” by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says the share of population over the age of 60 could increase from 8% in 2015 to 19% in 2050.
By the end of the century, elderly will be 34% of the total population.
During 2000-2050, the overall 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% of population above 60 by 2050.
According to the report, a distinguishing feature in India is a significant inter-state disparity.
For instance, southern states will have more elderly, along with Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Punjab.
Central and northern states have much lower proportions of the elderly.
Patel said the government is taking steps to ensure care for the elderly. (ToI)