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Building knowledge Base on Ageing in India: A series of
Programmatic and Research Studies
(Supported by UNFPA)

Background

The Census of India 2001 enumerated 76.6 million persons aged 60 years and above, constituting about eight percent of the population of the country.  As expected, female population aged 60 and above outnumbered the males by one million. According to projections, the population of 60 and above in 2026 is estimated to reach 173 million, which would constitute more than 12 percent of the total population. The old dependency ratio, which is the number of people aged 60 and above per 100 persons in the working ages (15-59), will be 19 percent in 2026, resulting in increase in median age from 22.5 years to 31.4 years between 2001 and 2026 (ORGI, 2006).

The country will therefore witness wide inter-state variations in terms of ageing of population.  States that have either completed or are at advanced level of demographic transition, will have higher proportion of aged as compared to those going through the transition.  For instance, the state of Kerala having 10.6 percent of the elderly population in 2001 is expected to have 18.3 percent with an absolute number of 6.8 million elderly by the year 2026. On the other hand, a state like Uttar Pradesh that is presently having only six percent will have around 10 percent elderly population in 2026. Though the proportion of the elderly population in Uttar Pradesh is smaller than Kerala’s, the absolute number of elderly in Uttar Pradesh is expected to be thrice the size of Kerala.   

The emerging changes in the age and sex structure of the population, particularly at old and older ages further impacted through migration of youth and families, are expected to pose newer demographic and developmental challenges. Noting the experiences of countries like Japan and Germany and the ways of addressing the issues concerning the aged, the national government drafted a National Policy for the Elderly in 1999.  The National Policy clearly articulates the different needs of the Elderly and proposes ways of addressing them.  The policy focuses on three aspects, namely: Older persons and Development; Advancing Health and Well-Being into Old Age; and Ensuring Enabling and Supportive Environments, as recommended by the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002. 

The care of elderly in India rests with the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, which has been limited in reach and penetration.  Programmatically, given the cross-cutting nature of the issues around the aged, there have been very little concerted and holistic efforts, which essentially is vertical in nature.  Experience of working in this specific programme area, along with research and special studies could have a major bearing in improving the policies and programmes for the elderly and could pave way for building a body of evidence-based knowledge during the current UNFPA country programme. 

The knowledge base in regard to the elderly in terms of their demographic, social and economic conditions, health needs and their living arrangements with a special focus on single and widowed women are very few.  Further, there have been few or no studies that have documented the awareness and use of entitlements by the elderly.   Even if they have been studied, they are limited to few projects areas and are rarely available on the public domain.  Hence, a series of studies related to demographic, social and economic and health aspects, especially chronic and degenerative diseases would be undertaken on the basis of secondary data and review of programme in terms of its reach and awareness of elderly regarding their entitlements would be carried out through primary research.  The findings from these studies would enable in identifying policy and programmatic gaps and would help in readdressing it.  Further, discourse on the subject to raise public debate will be supported through advocacy events, conferences, seminars and workshops.

 

Objectives

The main objective is to create a knowledge base on different aspects of Ageing in India by facilitating/undertaking a series of thematic studies and disseminating the findings to different stakeholders.

 

People

From ISEC :   K S James,   T S Syamala,   Lekha Subaiya,   Supriya

From IEG :   Moneer Alam

From UNFPA:  K M Sathyanarayana, Sanjay Kumar

From TISS: S Sivaraju

Experts:  G Giridhar, P M Kulkarni, S Irudaya Rajan, K Srinivasan

 

Survey

Data on Building Knowledge Base on Population Ageing in India

 

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