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India’s elderly population will outnumber children by 2046: UN

Report sees a relatively young India today turning into a rapidly ageing society in the coming decades

India’s elderly population will outnumber children by 2046: UN
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

The share of the elderly, or those aged 60 and above, in India’s population is likely to double from 10.5% in 2021 to about 20.8% at 347 million in 2050, the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) said in a report.

By 2046, the share of elderly population will be higher than the population of children aged 0-14 years, the ‘India Ageing Report 2023’ said.

The report said there were 1.1 billion individuals aged 60 or above worldwide in 2022, constituting 13.9% of the total population, which stands at 7.9 billion.

By 2050, the UNFPA predicts, the number of older persons worldwide will double to 2.1 billion, accounting for 22% of the total global population.

While this increase will be notable across the globe, the report emphasizes that the most substantial rise will occur in developed nations. In these regions, the proportion of older individuals is expected to jump from 26% in 2022 to 34% in 2050.

During the same period, less developed regions will witness an increase from 11.5% to 20%.

Asia holds a central position in this demographic shift, currently housing 58% of the world’s elderly population.

In the coming three decades, both the percentage and absolute numbers of individuals aged above 60 in Asia are projected to double, reaching 1.3 billion, or 25% of the total population, by 2050.

Japan, China, Indonesia and Vietnam are poised to witness a significant increase in the elderly population, potentially exceeding 40% of their total population, characterized by high to very high growth rates, the report said.

Population aging is the result of three crucial demographic shifts: a decrease in fertility rates, a decline in mortality rates, and a growing trend of individuals surviving into older age, according to the report.

Many southern states and select northern states, such as Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, reported a higher share of the elderly population than the national average in 2021. This gap is expected to widen further by 2036.

States with higher fertility rates such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are projected to see an increase in the proportion of the elderly population, albeit remaining below the Indian average.


Shireen Khan is a Senior Correspondent at Press Insider. She covers lifestyle, culture, and health. More

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