Situation of older people
The number of older people is growing
As of 2019, over 139 million people living in India are aged over 60 which is over 10% of the country’s total population. The proportion of older people is expected to almost double to 19.5% in 2050 with 319 million people aged over 60. This means that every 1 in 5 Indians is likely to be a senior citizen.
Older people need care and support
An ageing population increases the demand for health services. Older people suffer from both degenerative and communicable diseases due to the ageing of the body’s immune system. The leading causes of morbidity are infections, while visual impairment, difficulty in walking, chewing, hearing, osteoporosis, arthritis and incontinence are other common health-related problems.
Older people struggle with poverty
India is rated 130th out of 189 countries on the latest United Nations Human Development Index Ranking in 2018. Only a quarter of people (24.1%) older than the statutory pensionable age in India receive an old-age pension (contributory, noncontributory or both). Over time, there will be fewer and fewer working-age people to provide economic support during old age with the old-age dependency ratio expected to double in the next few decades.
Below are the key statistics on India’s population of older people:
|Population aged 60 and above (total)||139,610,000||319,918,000|
|Population aged 60 and above (% of total population)||10.1||19.5|
|Older women aged 60+ (% of total population)||5.15||10|
|Life expectancy (males)||68.11||73.61|
|Life expectancy (females)||70.53||77.25|
|Old-Age Dependency Ratio (Age 65+ / Age 15-64)||9.8||20.3|
|Rural older people (% of total population)||3.86|
|Urban older people (% of total population)||1.60|
|Older persons living alone aged 60 and above (% of total population aged 60+)||4.9|
Government policies related to older people
National policy on older people
The Department of Senior Citizens under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment implements programmes and services for senior citizens. The National Policy on Senior Citizens aims to encourage healthcare, safety and security, safe housing, and protected welfare.
Health and care
The Twelfth Five Year Plan 2012-2017 aims for continued care across health facilities, to ensure health issues are addressed and cared for appropriately, with emphasised referral support. Raising awareness of various diseases and illnesses that older women are more susceptible too is important to ensure knowledge of risk factors and how to live healthily.
Older people’s associations
The National Policy on Older People focuses on encourages independence amongst the elderly, providing knowledge of resources and community involvement opportunities.
Whilst there is provision of a state pension in India, only 17.4% of the population receive money from the scheme. 72.3% are still left with no pension at all. The Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme provides those who are eligible after means-testing income and between the age of 60-79 with 200 Rupees per month. Those who are over 80 receive a fund of 500 Rupees a month. The recipients must be within a household that is below the poverty line. Elderly women who are without savings and unable to work often find difficulty in obtaining a state pension.
More information can be found on the Indian Government website here.
The following organisations are part of the HelpAge network in India:
- Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti (GRAVIS)
- HelpAge India
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Pension Watch, 2016. Country Fact File: India. [Online]
Available at: http://www.pension-watch.net/pensions/country-fact-file/india[Accessed 5 August 2019]
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