THE NUMBER of centenarians — those over the age of 100 — has hit a record high in Maharashtra. There are 57,950 centenarians in the state as per the 2011 Census report — a 210 per cent increase over the figure released in the 2001 Census when the state had only 18,638 individuals over the age of 100.
The figure suggests that upgraded medical care has substantially improved the life span of residents of the state with a large number of them living longer than before.
However, it also points to the impending threat of an ageing society, which could have implications for any government in terms of higher spending on healthcare and pension.
For instance, the Railways — one of India’s top employers — has to foot a huge pension bill, with its 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 was projected to be Rs 39,417 crore. It was expected to rise further to Rs 46,315 crore in 2017-18.
India has a total of 6.05 lakh individuals over the age of 100. They constitute a miniscule 0.05 per cent of the country’s 121.05 crore population as per the 2011 Census. Uttar Pradesh, with 1.99 lakh residents over the age of 100, is home to 32.96 per cent of India’s centenarian, who make up 0.09 per cent of UP’s total population of 19.98 crore. It is close to double the national average of 0.05 per cent. West Bengal, meanwhile, has 59,156 people over the age of 100.
Incidentally, the share of those over 60 in Maharashtra is also high. In India, while those over the age of 60 constitute 8.6 per cent of the population, in Maharashtra, it is 9.9 per cent. The highest is in Kerala, where 12.6 per cent of the population is over 60.
Also on rise is Maharashtra’s age dependency ratio — ratio of older dependents (people older than 64) to the working age population (between 15 to 64). India’s age old dependency ratio stands at 14.2 as against 15.7 for Maharashtra. Only two states, Kerala and Punjab, have a higher dependency ratio.
An ageing population has deep social, economic and political implications for states and countries, putting a strain on healthcare and social systems. “The trend clearly shows that ageing will emerge as major social challenge in the future and vast resources will be required towards the support, service, care and treatment of the elderly,” a 2016 report into a survey on ‘Elderly in India’, conducted by the Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, had stated.