Ticking age clock
India's elderly population is projected to rise to over 20% by 2050, highlighting the need for support as the dependency ratio increases.
India’s share of senior citizens, or those aged 60 years and above, will rise from 10.5% of the population in 2022 to more than a fifth by 2050, according to the India Ageing Report 2023 by the United Nations Population Fund and International Institute for Population Sciences. India’s elderly cohort is expanding at an unprecedented rate and may exceed children aged 0-14 years before we hit mid-century, while the share of those aged 15-59 will also see a dip, it noted. These projections should be viewed as a caution that the demographic advantage of our youth bulge won’t last forever. As the proportion of dependents goes up, so will the fiscal burden of supporting the aged. That more than 40% of our elderly are in the poorest wealth quintile, as the report says, underscores the need for such support. We must, thus, focus on making the most of the country’s current demographic profile. With 65% of our people under 35, India has a potentially vast workforce. But labour participation remains very low, especially of women, and jobs remain scarce. And if we slip into a middle-income trap on account of inequality, we’ll find ourselves getting old much too long before getting well-off.
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