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India's Elderly Population

2024 MAY 1

Mains   > Social justice   >   Human Resources   >   Miscellaneous


GS 2 > Social justice   >   Welfare Schemes   >   Vulnerable & Backward sections


The number of persons above 60 years is set to more than double from 100 million in 2011 to 230 million in 2036, making up nearly 15 percent of the total population. This is projected to further rise to 319 million by 2050, nearly one-fifth of the total population.(Indian Express)


  • As per India Ageing Report, 2023, The elderly population (aged 60 years or above) in India accounted for 8.6% of the total population in 2011. Of these 53 million are females and 51 million are males. 

Other highlights of the report are as follows:

  • Inter-state variation: The report said that most states in the southern region and select northern states such as Himachal Pradesh and Punjab reported a higher share of the elderly population than the national average in 2021, a gap that is expected to widen by 2036. Compared with southern and western India, the central and northeastern regions have a younger group of states.
  • Old-age dependency ratio: The report also found that in the southern region, the old-age dependency ratio (elderly people per 100 people between 15 and 59 years) was higher than the national average at around 20, as is true of western India at 17. Overall, Union Territories (13) and the north-eastern region (13) reflected lower old-age dependency ratios.


  • Channelization of experience- Elderly peoples carry an immense personal and professional experience. We need to channelize these experiences by taking care of the elderly population.
  • Generational Link- The elderly citizens provide a vital generational link for the upcoming generation, such as providing support and stability to families and society at large. For ex- Grandparents in joint families provide a crucial link for transferring values and morals to the younger generation.
  • Social Harmony- The deep cultural impressions and social experiences of the elderly population in India provide the necessary buffer against intolerance, violence and hate crimes.
  • Moral and ethical responsibility- It is the moral and ethical responsibility of the society to care for its people beyond their prime. This helps in reciprocating their lifetime of physical, social, emotional, and economic investment in the society.


  • ‘Feminisation’ and ‘ruralisation’ of older population: The India Ageing Report 2023 says challenges facing India’s ageing population are the feminisation and ‘ruralisation’ of the older population in India. Data show that women in India, on average, have a higher life expectancy at the age of 60 and 80 when compared with men. As per the UNFPA Report titled ‘Caring for Our Elders: Early Responses’ the sex ratio of the elderly has increased from 938 women to 1,000 men in 1971 to 1,033 in 2011 and is projected to increase to 1,060 by 2026. Also, the report observed that as many as 71% of elderly people in India were living in rural areas.
  • Lack of physical infrastructure: Most spaces in homes and public spaces are insensitive to elderly needs. Lack of access to assistive equipment makes the situation worse.
  • Changing family structure: The emerging prevalence of nuclear family set-ups in recent years, the elderly is likely to be exposed to emotional and physical insecurity in the years to come. There is an upward trend in the number of elderly staying alone or with spouse only from 9.0% in 1992 to 18.7% in 2006.
  • Lack of Social Support: The elderly in India are much more vulnerable because of the less government spending on social security system. Insurance cover that is elderly sensitive is virtually non- existent in India and in addition, the pre-existing illnesses are usually not covered. Pension and social security is also restricted to those who have worked in the public sector or the organized sector of industry.
  • Availability, Affordability and Accessibility of Health Care: Geriatric care is relatively new in many developing countries like India with many practicing physicians having little knowledge of the clinical and functional implications of aging
  • Economic Dependency: About 85% of the aged had to depend on others for their day to day maintenance. The situation was even worse for elderly females. (52nd round of NSSO). Poverty act as a multiplier of the risk of abuse.
  • Issues of the public health system: Lack of infrastructure, limited manpower, poor quality of care and overcrowding of facilities affects a focused elderly care in our public health systems.




‘Vayomithram’ by Government of Kerala: This scheme aims to provide health care and support to elderly residents in the corporation/municipal areas. The project mainly provides free medicines through mobile clinics, palliative care and a help-desk to the old.

Kerala Police Janamaithri Suraksha: The police help to monitor the senior citizens by interacting with them on phone, visiting them regularly, organizing field visits and advising them on their personal problems.


  • Agewell Foundation
  • Ekal Nari Shakti Sangathan
  • HelpAge India



  • Establishing a Formal Caregiving Infrastructure: Enhance home-based healthcare, as suggested by a NITI Aayog report, which indicates that 65% of unnecessary hospital visits could be replaced and costs reduced by 20% with proper home care. This requires training caregivers who are empathetic and providing them with formal, improved workplace conditions. Recognizing "home" as a place of care and work is crucial for advancing elderly care.
  • Policy Framework for Home-Based Caregiving: Develop a comprehensive policy that includes standardizing vocational training, defining roles, and establishing clear career paths for caregivers. The policy should also organize a caregiver registry and ensure transparency, accountability, and grievance redressal mechanisms.
  • Advancing the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Bill,2019: The upcoming parliamentary session needs to pass this bill to regulate home-based care for the elderly effectively.
  • Enhancements to Pension Systems: The government should allocate special funds to strengthen pension systems, ensuring better funding and broader coverage for the elderly population.
  • Implementing a Time Bank Initiative in India: Inspired by Switzerland's model, this initiative would allow the younger generation to save 'time' by caring for seniors, which they can later use when they need care themselves. This model should be adapted to fit the Indian context.
  • Gradual Increase of the Retirement Age: Consider raising the retirement age in a phased manner to ensure it does not impede career opportunities for the younger generation.
  • Government Initiatives for Elderly Health Management: Proactively work on improving lifestyle modifications, managing non-communicable diseases, and addressing vision and hearing issues among the elderly, while ensuring access to necessary healthcare services.



Q: Critically examine the effects of globalization on the aged population in India.  (UPSC - 2013) [150 W, 10M]