India’s demographics at a crossroads: the elderly may outnumber the young

India’s favorable demographic dividend is at something of a tipping point, as the proportion of young people in the population begins to decline, even as the proportion of the elderly is expected to rise steadily during 2021-2036. The most populous states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, which saw an increase in the proportion of young people in the total population until 2021, are expected to see a decrease from now, according to the ‘Youth in India 2022’ report published today. by the Ministry of Statistics. and Program Implementation.

States such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh are projected to have a larger population of elderly than youth by 2036. “Bihar and Uttar Pradesh experienced an increase in the ratio of youth to total population until 2021 and then it is expected start to decrease. . These two states, along with Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, are projected to have more than half (52 per cent) of the country’s youth,” the report says.

Citing the findings of the Report of the Technical Group on Population Projections, 2020, constituted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, this report says that young people in the age group of 15 to 29 years comprise 27.2 percent of the population by 2021, which is expected to drop to 22.7 by 2036.

The proportion of the population under the age of 15 is projected to decline, and the elderly in the population are expected to increase, according to the report. “The youth population is expected to increase initially, but will begin to decline in the second half of the 2011-2036 period. The total youth population increased from 222.7 million in 1991 to 333.4 million in 2011 and is projected to reach 371.4 million by 2021 and subsequently decline to 345.5 million by 2036,” the report says.

For Kerala, where the youth population peaked earlier than other states, the proportion of the elderly population in the total population has been projected to be 16.5% compared to 22.1% of the youth population in 2021. The proportion of elderly people in the total population (22.8%) in Kerala is then projected to cross the proportion of young people (19.2 percent) by 2036. Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh are also projected to experience an elderly population more than young people by 2036, according to the report.

A higher proportion of young people today will translate into a higher proportion of the elderly in the population of the future. “This will create a demand for better healthcare facilities and the development of wellness schemes/programs for older people,” the report said.

Experts said that the increase in the proportion of older people will put pressure on social security and public welfare systems and that the next 4-5 years should be well used to speed up the creation of productive jobs. “We haven’t used this period to create more productive employment to enhance savings and growth because that’s what the demographic dividend is all about. That window is closing. In the case of the southern states, where the proportion of the dependent population is forecast to increase, it means how the dependent population is going to be supported and what implications it will have on things like the provision of social security for the elderly, pensions and welfare. health as longevity increases. That’s the conversation going on in advanced economies. The proportion of elderly in the population begins to increase compared to the group of young people of working age. Given the fact that people often have informal jobs that do not provide social security, then who will step in to provide social security that adds a burden to the state? Those would be the kind of problems,” said Radhicka Kapoor, Senior Visiting Fellow at ICRIER.

The share of youth in the total population had risen from 26.6% in 1991 to 27.9% in 2016 and was then projected to start a downward trend, reaching 22.7% by 2036. In contrast, the proportion of the elderly population in the total population has increased from 6.8% in 1991 to 9.2% in 2016 and is projected to reach 14.9% in 2036.

“We should have seen an expansion in manufacturing. We have missed it. We continue to aspire to increase our share of employment in manufacturing, which we need to continue to do because even for people who are currently looking for jobs and are in the current workforce, when they go into retirement and the share of seniors begins to increase in highly populated states, then it will be like a ticking time bomb. In the next 4 or 5 years, if active labor market policies are adopted to speed up the creation of productive jobs, we can at least try to ensure that the situation does not get worse,” added Kapoor.

According to the 2022 edition of the United Nations World Population Prospects (WPP), released on Monday, India is projected to overtake China as the world’s most populous country by 2023. The report noted that a sustained drop in Fertility has led to an increasing concentration of the working age population (25-64 years old) and this shift in the age distribution provides a time-limited opportunity for accelerated economic growth known as the “demographic dividend”. ”.

However, the UN report also noted that the elderly population is increasing both in number and as a proportion of the total, with the proportion of the global population aged 65 and over projected to rise from 10 percent in 2022 to 16. percent by 2050, advising countries with aging populations to take steps to adapt public programs to the growing proportion of older people, including by improving the sustainability of social security and pension systems and establishing universal health care systems and long-term care.

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