The United Nations Population Division predicts that India's elderly population will double by 2050. While in 2023, around 10 percent of Indians belong to the 60+ age group, its share will reach more than 20 percent by the middle of the current century. A new report by the organization's Population Fund lauds the progress in health and medical care that made this possible, but it also highlights the challenges the development brings. While India is not yet affected by population aging to the extent that some other nations are, there will nevertheless be an increased need for government assistance, government oversight and also care facilities, according to the report.
UN data for the years between 1950 and 2100 shows how the aging of the population is actually speeding up in India and how in 2023, the country stands on the brink of a faster aging process. While in the 1980s, the elderly population in India was growing at a rate of just over 30 percent per decade, that had increased to around 35 percent in the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s. In the 2020s, however, this metric is taking a jump up to 40.6 percent.
The oldest regions in India, according to the release, are the South and West, with the oldest states being Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Southern India also saw the highest shares of older people not living with their adult children. These persons most often lived with their spouses exclusively, or alone, if their spouse had died. This more often applies to older women, who have a longer life expectancy, potentially leading to poverty as widows have fewer assets of their own compared to widowers.
Generally, the need to care for older people living alone is expected to rise in India as people have fewer (or no) children, families start to live further apart and other informal social support systems also weaken. Older people in India tend to live in rural regions more often, which can lead to an increased strain on the access to health care and to income insecurity.