Ageing Population
Ageing Population


Source: The Assam Tribune Relevance: GS I- Population & Associated Issues, GS III- Inclusive growth Context: The global population landscape is experiencing significant shifts as the age structure rapidly changes, influenced by rising life expectancy and declining birth rates.


Due to significant advancements in healthcare, social and economic changes, and technological progress, people are experiencing longer lifespans.

In 2022, there were 1.1 billion individuals aged 60 and above, accounting for 13.9% of the global population. This figure is expected to double to 2.1 billion by 2050, comprising 22% of the world's population.

Asia, in particular, will see a dramatic increase in its elderly population by 2050, with 1.3 billion older individuals representing 25% of its total population.

Factors contributing in increase of the ageing population in India:

  • Increase in Life expectancy - Since independence, India’s life expectancy has doubled.

  • Decrease in fertility rates - In India, a mother can now give birth to just two children, as opposed to the previous average of six.

Issues associated with an Ageing population :

  • Higher healthcare spending: In India, many elderly individuals lack health insurance, leading to increased personal medical expenses.

  • Lack of income security for seniors: India struggles to provide adequate financial support to its aging citizens due to a minimal social security system, allocating only 1% of its GDP to pensions.

  • Feminization of aging: A notable trend is that women tend to live longer than men, presenting unique challenges in the context of aging populations.

  • Scarcity of geriatric care: There's a notable gap in specialized healthcare services for the elderly, especially between urban and rural settings. Surveys indicate a high prevalence of depression among the elderly, affecting 30% to 50% of this group.

  • Decline in skilled workforce quality: The ageing workforce is leading to a potential shortage of skilled labour as the working-age population grows older.

  • Increased dependency ratio: With a higher percentage of older individuals, India faces challenges in sustaining its tax base to support escalating healthcare, pension costs, and other public services due to a shrinking workforce.

The present situation:

Senior living and care in India can be broadly divided into:

1) The informal, overlooked segment lacking a structured social security system or healthcare advantages, and

2) The well-off, middle-class category where financial constraints are not an issue.

Nowadays, with rising disposable incomes, Indian families possess the financial capacity to spend on senior care services, recognizing them as crucial. However, there is an urgent need for geriatric healthcare services, including clinics, hospitals, and medical professionals knowledgeable about the elderly's specific needs, for both groups.

Market Needs:

  • The sector is expected to generate significant demand for services such as home care, financial planning (including insurance and retirement savings), travel, leisure, and entertainment, alongside healthcare and geriatric care infrastructure.

  • These services are poised to become pillars of healthy aging, especially as real estate developers delve into the senior living space.

  • The home care industry is emerging as a key component of the senior living sector.

  • These areas offer a wide range of services catering to the varied needs of the senior and elder population.

  • While "senior living" often refers to independent or assisted living, it also includes a broader array of services like hospice care, adult day care, residential care homes, and continuing care retirement communities.

  • The landscape of elder care and senior living in India is undergoing a significant transformation, thanks to startups and digital platforms that deliver innovative products and services to enhance the fundamental aspects of care and living.

Future Prospects:

  • Stakeholders are dedicating efforts to build and improve a robust ecosystem focusing on best practices, laws and regulations, service delivery, financing and mortgage options, innovation, job creation, and skill training.

  • The sector is opening up opportunities for employment, entrepreneurship, skill enhancement, and broader socio-economic benefits.

  • Given its impact on social and economic aspects, this market offers diverse opportunities for social entrepreneurship, ranging from non-profit initiatives to hybrid models blending non-profit and profit motives, and fully profit-oriented ventures. 

Madrid Action Plan of Ageing:

The Madrid Action Plan of Ageing under the UN focuses on three priority areas:

  • development,

  • advancing health and well-being into old age and

  • supporting an enabling environment.

Way forward:

While developing and nurturing this crucial sector as an economic growth sector, it is important to understand how it will impact on the social fabric of the society. A robust geriatric care sector will emerge when the key enablers of the continuum of care, living and support converge seamlessly with an understanding mindset, empathy and compassion embedded into the core of this segment and where both the privileged and the marginalised will stand to gain.

Advait IAS