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Record 35 per cent jump pushes 60-plus population in India to an all-time high

This is a record high since 1950 and is almost twice the rate at which the overall population grew.

Written by ZEESHAN SHAIKH | Mumbai | Updated: April 22, 2016 9:57 am
india, india population, india population growth, population growth india, india senior citizens, senior citizen population, india news, indian express A report released by the Ministry of Statistics today said that the number of citizens over the age of 60 jumped 35.5 per cent — from 7.6 crore in 2001 to 10.3 crore in 2011. (File/Express Photo)

The number of Indians over the age of 60 has hit an all-time high, accounting for 8.6 per cent of the country’s 121-crore population, according to latest official figures.

A report released by the Ministry of Statistics on Thursday said that the number of citizens over the age of 60 jumped 35.5 per cent — from 7.6 crore in 2001 to 10.3 crore in 2011.

This is also a record high since 1950 and is almost twice the rate at which the overall population grew. In the same period — 2001 to 2011 — India’s overall population grew by 17.7 per cent, according to official figures.

“The trend clearly reveals that ageing will emerge as a major social challenge in the future,” said Amarjeet Kaur, Director-General (Central Statistical Office), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.


“Population ageing is a global phenomenon. The elderly face a number of problems due to the absence of an assured and sufficient income to support themselves for their healthcare and other social securities. Loss of a social role and recognition, and non-availability of opportunities for creative and effective use of free time are also becoming a matter of great concern for the elderly persons,” said Kaur.

The state with highest percentage of elderly is Kerala, where they make up 12.6 per cent of the population. The state with the least number of elderly is Arunachal Pradesh, with only 4.6 per cent of the population over 60, followed by Meghalaya at 4.7 per cent.

India’s age dependency ratio is also increasing, standing at 14.2 against 10.9 in 2001. Age dependency ratio denotes the ratio of older dependents (people above 64) to the working-age population (those between 15 and 64).


In contrast, ageing economies such as Japan have an age dependency ratio as high as 42 while Belgium has 28.

An ageing society could have implications for any government in terms of higher spending on medical or healthcare and on pensions.

For instance, the Railways — one of India’s top employers — has to foot a huge pension bill with the number of pensioners now at 13.35 lakh. According to a white paper on Railways released in 2015, the outgo on pensions in 2016-17 is projected to be Rs 39,417 crore and expected to rise further to Rs 46,315 crore in 2017-18.

Experts point out that ageing economies face the problem of shrinking resources and increasing expenditure.

“Poor or developing countries can’t afford a social security system. What we should do is ramp up our education system and create job opportunities. We should create an environment where people have jobs and are in a position to save money for their future. In the next few decades, when the per capita income rises, we can be in a position to create a social security fund that will take care of the old,” said Manish Sabharwal, chairman and co-founder of Teamlease Services, a staffing services provider.


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  1. K
    Kamal Chattopadhyay
    Jun 22, 2017 at 7:25 am
    It is time that elders take up the wake-up call learn financial literacy to manage their wealth, howsoever small or otherwise, and do not fritter away in risky investments for higher return or hand it over to children before they die. Elder Abuse take place at homes esp. for widows, who mostly fall dependent on others and are exploited.
    1. Girish Ramaiah
      Apr 22, 2016 at 4:26 am
      India is going to face major problems due to increase in number of persons above 60 Years. None of our facilities ( Railways, Airports, Hospitals, Roads, Shopping Malls, etc) are designed for old / challenged persons. Reduction in Bank interest rates, imposition of various types of surcharge, service tax, no pension for many people, young, educated, hard working and brilliant people leaving the country because of reservation policy, etc pose a great threat and challenge.
      1. S
        Apr 22, 2016 at 4:23 am
        Government needs to sack surplus employees before pensions claim the entire tax revenue. /what an unfair system - the private sector employees pay taxes so that the undeserving, useless, unmeritorious clerks in the government can receive handsome pension. Shame on democracy.
        1. R
          Rajesh Mohanty
          Apr 22, 2016 at 5:28 am
          Is this a insidious campaign by bureaucrats to pressurize the Government to extend the retirement age of Government employees? Let BJP realise that PM Modi's consuency is youth of India
          1. K
            kulaputra kulaputra
            Apr 22, 2016 at 12:10 am
            Pensions, more homes for aged people, more respect everywhere for someone who because of age can not perform functions that they used to, alternative to climbing stairs, higher interest rates for the aged (not just a token 1/2 %), entertainment, abolition of income tax and harment from income tax, job opportunities to contribute by mentoring younger people - a lot of work needs to be done
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