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India's Ageing Population

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Submitted By kv1214
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It is a generally well-known fact that the world, overall, has an ageing population. This is especially true when looking at the population of India. From 1950 to 2010, India’s population aged 60 and older has risen from 5% to 7.5% (Bloom, Mahal, Rosenberg, and Sevilla, 2010, p. 60). Considering India’s life expectancy for both men and women in 2014 was less than 70 years (Saharan, 2014, p. 261), the fact that the population aged 60 and over has increased by 2.5% in 60 years is extremely influential to the economy. There is little governmental support for these elderly citizens, which leaves the burden of supporting them financially to their younger family members. In many cases, elderly citizens no longer live with their families, or their families do not earn enough to financially support the elderly person’s needs, and therefore the elderly citizens, and often their families as well, slip into poverty. In order for India’s economy to continue growing, policies in India must be changed to account for the increasing life expectancy and the increased number of elderly citizens.

Before we can examine the economy and the required policy changes, we must look at the population of India. In India, there is currently a falling fertility rate and an increasing life expectancy (Bloom et al., 2010, p. 61). This means that less children are being born, but people can expect to live longer. Looking at Figure 1, we can see that in 2010, the population was largest in the 0-14 age range for both genders. As it is now 2016, six years after this data was recorded, this population would now fall in the age range of 6-20, meaning those that fell in the age range of 9-14 years in 2010 are now regarded as working class individuals. Since the fertility rate is falling, the age range of 0-6 years would have declined by 2016, and as there has been increased longevity, we can assume that the elderly population has increased, not only from some of the working class individuals retiring, but also from the already existing elderly population in 2010 that are still living today in 2016. After examining Figure 1, we can see that there is definitely an ageing population in India. Figure 2 shows the projected population of India in 2050. By this time, the largest age group will be in the working class, meaning many of these people will be retiring at similar times. This also shows that India does in fact have an ageing population, which has implications on the economy.
Figure 1. Population pyramid of India in 2010; universal population was 1,173,108,018. Copyright 2016 by Proximity One.

Figure 1. Population pyramid of India in 2010; universal population was 1,173,108,018. Copyright 2016 by Proximity One.

Figure 2. Projected population pyramid of India in 2050; universal population is expected to be 1,656,553,632. Copyright 2016 by Proximity One.

Figure 2. Projected population pyramid of India in 2050; universal population is expected to be 1,656,553,632. Copyright 2016 by Proximity One.

“India has the system of multi-generational co-residence whereby more than one generation stay together under one roof and the family provided much needed care, health, emotional support, and security to its elderly members; thereby reducing the role of government in making provisions for old age security nominal” (Jain and Prakash, 2014, p. 245). While multi-generational residences used to be the norm in India, many working class citizens move to urban settings to find jobs and support themselves and their immediate families. Family ties are beginning to fray as a result of the migration of working-age people, so many working-class aged citizens live further away from their parents than they did in the past. This means there is also less multigenerational households, which results in less family support for the elderly. Urbanization, and other factors, have led to lower birth rates, resulting in intergenerational gaps. Increased longevity has also led to more expenses tied to caring for the elderly, which Indian families generally cannot afford (Bloom et al., 2010, p. 61-62). Due to this change in living arrangements, the elderly population of India is at risk of sliding into poverty (Saharan, 2014, p. 261).

In addition to the change in living arrangements, there is the declining fertility rates and the projected increase in the elderly dependency ratio. Because of all of these, it is likely that future generations of working class citizens will find it difficult to support their elderly family members financially (Bloom et al., 2010, p. 65). In order to address the issue that younger members of the family cannot support their elderly family members, India has several forms of public support for its elderly citizens. These include: pension payments for retired government employees; contribution to social security schemes of employees in both the public and unorganized sectors; paying out social security and welfare, including old age pensions; poverty alleviation schemes and affirmative actions; and welfare programmes for senior citizens, such as special income tax rebates and higher rates of interest on saving schemes (Narayana, 2012, p. 304). With the elderly population increasing for the immediate future, and likely the distant future as well, India will need to continue to offer public support programmes for its elderly citizens, so as to alleviate the financial burden on younger family members who are trying to support them.

It is recognized in India that there is a need for policy reorientation, which can be seen in Dr. Jaya Shrivastava’s article, “Population Ageing and Affirmative Policy for the Elderly in India: A Need for Policy Reorientation.” In 1950, the Constitution of India was created. Article 41 of the Constitution states that “the state shall… make effective provision for… old age sickness and disablement…” (Shrivastava, 2014, p. 280). In addition to this outright statement in the Constitution of India that the state will provide assistance to their elderly citizens, there is also the National Policy on Older Persons, or NPOP. The NPOP was created in 1999 by the Government of India in hopes of promoting the well-being of older persons, and strengthening the place of older citizens in society. Overall, the NPOP allows the elderly to “live the last phase of their life with purpose, dignity, and peace” (Shrivastava, 2014, p. 281). In this policy, older citizens are recognized as a resource, and this means they need to be provided with opportunities and facilities to enable them to contribute to society (Shrivastava, 2014, p. 281). Once we provide older citizens with the means to support themselves, the burden of supporting them, financially or otherwise, is taken off of their younger family members. If we consider the financial support needed for elderly citizens, these policies require old age pensions to be paid, meaning that less elderly citizens will fall into poverty, and so will less working class citizens, because they will no longer need to support their older family members. The NPOP policy recognizes that “larger budgetary allocation from the state is needed for the welfare of the elderly” (Shrivastava, 2014, p. 281), and with continued financial support from the state, the economy of India will begin to improve and there will, likely, be less of the population living poverty.…...

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