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The India Ageing Report 2023

Recently, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) unveiled the India Ageing Report 2023. This comprehensive report draws on the latest data from various sources, including the Longitudinal Ageing Survey in India (LASI) from 2017–18, the Census of India, Population Projections by the Government of India (2011–2036), and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs' World Population Prospects for 2022. Notable Entities:

  • United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

  • International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)

Understanding the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)

  • The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) operates as a trust fund within the framework of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

  • Previously known as the United Nations Fund for Population Activities from 1969 to 1987, it was founded in 1969 and is now the primary international provider of support for population-related initiatives.

  • UNFPA holds a pivotal role in implementing the 1994 Programme of Action from the International Conference on Population and Development.

  • Essentially, UNFPA functions as the United Nations' agency dedicated to sexual and reproductive health.

  • Its mission centers on ensuring a world where each pregnancy is desired, every childbirth is safe, and the potential of every young person is realized.

The Functions of UNFPA UNFPA offers financial backing, research, and advocacy programs in three key areas:

  1. Reproductive Health: This encompasses family planning, safe maternal health, and the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.

  2. Population Issues: UNFPA addresses population matters in both developed and developing nations, exploring potential strategies to tackle these issues.

  3. Women's Status: It actively works to address gender disparities in education, particularly the gender gap.

UNFPA's support programs are initiated exclusively in response to government requests. About the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)

  • IIPS, located in Mumbai, India, serves as a research and training hub for population studies.

  • Established in 1956 through a partnership between the Government of India, the United Nations, and the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, the institute functions as a regional center for the Asia-Pacific region.

  • It operates as an autonomous body under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.

  • IIPS conducts research using both its internal resources and external funding.

Key Highlights of the Report Projected Elderly Population:

  • The report indicates that India's elderly population, defined as individuals aged 60 and above, is expected to grow significantly.

  • Currently, the decadal growth rate for this demographic stands at 41%.

  • At this rate, the elderly population is projected to double, accounting for over 20% of the total population by 2050.

  • By 2046, it is anticipated that the elderly population will surpass the population of children aged 0 to 15 years.

Population Aged 80 and Above:

  • The report forecasts a remarkable 279% growth in the population of individuals aged 80 and above between 2022 and 2050.

  • This group is expected to be predominantly comprised of widowed and highly dependent elderly women.

Vulnerabilities of the Elderly:

  • More than 40% of India's elderly population falls within the poorest wealth quintile, and approximately 18.7% of them lack a source of income.

  • Such levels of poverty may have a considerable impact on their quality of life and healthcare utilization.

Higher Life Expectancy for Women:

  • The data demonstrates that women tend to have higher life expectancies at both 60 years of age and 80 years of age when compared to men.

  • Variations in life expectancy exist across states and union territories.

  • Moreover, the sex ratio among the elderly has been steadily increasing since 1991, while the ratio in the general population has remained relatively stable.

Inter-State Disparities:

  • Certain Indian states, primarily in the southern region and some northern states like Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, have reported a higher proportion of elderly residents compared to the national average in 2021.

  • This gap is expected to widen further by 2036.

  • States with higher fertility rates that are lagging in demographic transition, including Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, anticipate an increase in the proportion of elderly citizens between 2021 and 2036.

  • In terms of the aging index, central and northeastern regions are identified as having a younger profile of states.

Challenges: Poverty and Gender Disparities in Old Age

  • The report emphasizes that old-age poverty is neither uniform nor gender-neutral.

  • Older women are more likely to be widowed, living alone, devoid of income, and possessing fewer personal assets. They are often entirely dependent on family support.

  • The report also underscores the feminization and ruralization of the older population in India.

  • Additionally, there is a noticeable dearth of credible data pertaining to various aspects of elderly life in India.

Suggestions for Action

  • The report calls for special attention to be given to older individuals in disaster preparedness plans.

  • It recommends raising awareness about programs designed for older persons.

  • The government is encouraged to subject all Old Age Homes to regulatory oversight and to facilitate aging in situ (at home) as much as possible. This could be achieved through short-term care facilities, such as day-care centers.

  • The government should actively promote the establishment and operation of self-help groups for the elderly.

  • Encouraging multigenerational households for older individuals is also recommended.

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