India’s Elderly Population: Some Fundamentals

A report jointly brought out by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Help Age International says the following:

India’s population is likely to increase by 60 per cent between 2000 and 2050 but the number of elders, who have attained 60 years of age, will shoot up by 360 per cent and the government should start framing policies now else its consequences are likely to take it by surprise. India has around 100 million elderly at present and the number is expected to increase to 323 million, constituting 20 per cent of the total population, by 2050.

We take this opportunity to understand some fundamentals about the elderly population of India, their rights and some terms for your examination.

Definition of a Senior Citizen

  • Elderly or old age consists of ages nearing or surpassing the average life span of human beings. The boundary of old age cannot be defined exactly because it does not have the same meaning in all societies. Government of India adopted ‘National Policy on Older Persons’ in January, 1999. The policy defines ‘senior citizen’ or ‘elderly’ as a person who is of age 60 years or above.
  • Also, as per Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, senior citizen means any person being a citizen of India, who has attained the age of 60 years or above.

Age Specific Mortality Rate

Mortality rate is a measure of the number of deaths in some population, scaled to the size of that population, per unit time. Mortality rate is typically expressed in units of deaths per 1000 individuals per year; thus, a mortality rate of 9.5 in a population of 100,000 would mean 950 deaths per year in that entire population, or 0.95% out of the total. There are two concepts within this-one is Crude Death Rate and another is Age-specific Mortality Rate

The crude death rate is the total number of deaths per year per 1000 people.




The age –specific mortality rate is defined as the number of deaths in specific age-group per thousand populations in the same age-group in a given year.


ASMR = x 1000


Dependency Ratio

The dependency ratio is an age-population ratio of those typically not in the labour force (the dependent part) and those typically in the labour force (the productive part). It is used to measure the pressure on productive population and is normally expressed as a percentage. In international statistics, the dependent part usually includes those under the age of 15 and over the age of 64. The productive part makes up the population in between, ages 15 – 64. It is normally expressed as a percentage. The (total) dependency ratio can be decomposed into the child dependency ratio and the old-age dependency ratio. In India, generally, persons aged 15 to 59 years are supposed to form the population of working ages and at age 60, people generally retire or withdraw themselves from work. Thus, the Old age dependency ratio is defined as the number of persons in the age-group

60 or more per 100 persons in the age-group 15-59 years.


  • Total Population: 1000
  • Persons in agegroup above 60: 300
  • Persons in age group 15-59: 400
  • Children (0-14 years): 300
  • In this example, Child Dependency Ration as well as Old Age Dependency ration is75%.

Impact of increasing dependency ratio

The increasing dependency ratio brings more economic pressure on working population. As the ratio increases there may be an increased burden on the productive part of the population to maintain the means of livelihood of the economically dependent. This results in direct impacts on financial expenditures on things like social security, as well as many indirect consequences. The MOPSI data shows that India’s old age dependency ratio is increasing consistently.

Population of Elderly people in India

  • As per the Census 2001, the elderly population account for 7.4% of total population in 2001. For males it was marginally lower at 7.1%, while for females it was 7.8%. Among states the proportion vary from around 4% in small states like Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Nagaland Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya to more than 10.5% in Kerala. Both the share and size of elderly population is increasing over time.
  • From 5.6% in 1961 it is projected to rise to 12.4% of population by the year 2026.
  • The number of senior citizens is slated to grow substantially in the coming years with better quality of life and better medical services at least in the urban areas. A study by the National Commission on Population projects that senior citizens will comprise 8.3 per cent of the population by 2011, 9.3 per cent by 2016, 10.7 per cent by 2021 and 12.40 per cent by 2026.
  • As per the most recent report jointly brought out by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Help Age International, the number of elders, who have attained 60 years of age, will shoot up by 360 per cent between 2000 and 2050 and the government should start framing policies now else its consequences are likely to take it by surprise. India has around 100 million elderly at present and the number is expected to increase to 323 million, constituting 20 per cent of the total population, by 2050. The population of the older persons in India is continuously increasing.
  • The Registrar General of India forecasts the share of older persons (age 60 years and above) in the total population to rise from 6.9% in 2001 to 12.4% in 2026.

Constitutional Provisions for Older Persons

  • Well-being of older persons has been mandated in the Constitution of India. Article 41, a Directive Principle of State Policy, has directed that the State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right of public assistance in cases of old age.
  • There are other provisions, too, which direct the State to improve the quality of life of its citizens. Right to equality has been guaranteed by the Constitution as a Fundamental Right. These provisions apply equally to older persons.
  • Social security has been made the concurrent responsibility of the Central and State Governments.

Legal Obligations for maintenance of parents

  • The Criminal Procedure Code, Hindu Adoption & Maintenance Act and Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and senior Citizen Act deal with the concerns of Senior Citizens in India.
  • The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and senior Citizen Act, 2007, which is also known as “Senior Citizens Act” was enacted to eliminate some procedural implications of the erstwhile provisions and legal obligations. Maintenance of Parents is included in section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and also the “Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956”. Under both of the above acts, parents can claim maintenance from their children. But the Government wanted to put in place some explicit, speedy, inexpensive process and that is why The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and senior Citizen Act, 2007 was enacted.
  • The 2007 act explicitly maintains that it should be the duty of the children to maintain their parents. It is applicable to all persons irrespective of their religion. Maintenance covers all basic necessities and requirements of life. There is no restriction / bar on the age of parent. Parent can claim maintenance without any bar of age, except in the case that children is minor. The act also includes the Childless senior citizen. A childless senior citizen can claim maintenance from relative who is legal heir of that senior citizen and who is in possession of or would inherit his property after his death.
  • The Senior Citizen Act is special act and has overriding to other related acts. As per this act, State Governments are required to constitute the Tribunal which adjudicates the maintenance proceedings exclusively. The State Government are required to constitute for each Subdivision one or more Tribunals as per the need within a period of six months from the date of the commencement of this Act. This Tribunal is presided over by an officer not below the rank of Sub Divisional Officer of a State. Senior citizen can either apply in person or through a person authorized by him or through a voluntary organization registered under the Societies Registration Act. Advocates are barred from proceedings of the Tribunal. Tribunal after considering all the facts may order children or relative to make a monthly allowance. The maximum maintenance allowance may be prescribed by the State Government and which shall not exceed the ten thousand rupees per month. Tribunal has been given power for alteration in maintenance allowance. The Tribunal has given power to order interim maintenance so that the urgent needs of senior citizen or parents can be fulfilled.

United Nations Principles for Older Persons

The United Nations Principles for Older Persons adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1991, the Proclamation of Ageing and the Global Targets on Ageing for the year 2001 adopted by the General Assembly in 1992, and various other Resolutions adopted from time to time, are intended to encourage governments to design their own policies and programmes in this regard.

National Policy for Older Persons:

In order to address the problems of the older persons, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE) has launched in the year 1999, a National Policy on Older Persons (NPOP). Its main features are as follows:

  • Old Age Pension Scheme
  • Tax Exemption for Senior Citizens
  • Make PDS to reach older people
  • Subsidy in healthcare, geriatrics care, mental health services, counselling facilities
  • Grants, land grant at concessional rates to NGOs and private hospitals to provide economical and specialized care for the older person
  • Earmarking 10% of the houses in housing schemes and easy access to loans
  • Layout of housing colonies to be sensitive to the needs of the older persons
  • Quick disposal of cases of property-transfer, mutation, property-tax etc.
  • Assistance for construction/ maintenance of Old-Age Home, Daycare Centers, Multi-service Citizens Center, out reach services, supply of disability related aids and appliances etc.
  • Setting up a welfare fund for older persons

Dr V Mohini Giri Committee

In 2010, the National Policy of Older Persons (NPOP) finished 10 years. To review it, Dr. V Mohini Giri committee was set up by the government to assess the present status of various issues concerning senior citizens and implementation of NPOP, 1999. The committee was also asked to draft a new National Policy on Older Persons, keeping in view the emerging trends in demographic, socio-economic, technological and other relevant fields.

Dr V Mohini Giri has submitted final draft of National policy on senior citizens 2011 to the Indian ministry of social justice and Empowerment.

  • One of the important recommendations of this committee was that recipients of national honours like padma awards or gallantry awards in the armed forces or national recognition for arts and culture must be given lifelong healthcare facilities for free on the lines of central government health services.
  • The draft of National policy on senior citizens 2011 calls for the setting up of a department of senior citizens 2011
  • It also recommends for the selling up of a department of senior citizens and also a national council for senior citizens.
  • According to the policy employment in in-come generating activities after super-annuation will be encouraged.
  • The draft policy also speaks that old-age pension scheme for those living below the poverty line would be expanded to cover all senior citizens.
  • Rates of monthly pension will be increased to Rs. 1000 per person and revised at intervals to prevent its deflation.

Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS)

In Directive Principles, Article 41 of the Constitution of India directs the State to provide public assistance to its citizens in case of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement and in other cases of underserved want within the limit of its economic capacity and development. In accordance with the Directive Principles of State Policy, the Government of India introduced in 1995 the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) to lay foundation to a National Policy for Social Assistance for the poor. The NSAP aims at ensuring minimum national standard for social assistance in addition to the benefits that state are currently providing or might provide in future.

  • At present NSAP comprises Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS), National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS) and Annapurna.
  • Under IGNOAPS which was launched on 19th November, 2007, Rs. 200 per month per beneficiary is provided by way of central assistance to all persons who are 65 years of higher and belonging to a family living below the poverty line. Earlier under National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS), the pension was restricted to destitute only. The number of beneficiaries under IGNOAPS is estimated to reach 160 lakh persons as compared to 87 lakh under NOAPS. The amount of old age pension was increased from Rs. 75 to Rs. 200 per month with effect from 1st April 2006 and the States were urged to contribute at least another Rs. 200 so that an old age pension beneficiary could get at least Rs. 400 per Rural Development 791 month.
  • In June 2011, Government approved lowering the age limit for the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) from 65 years to 60 years and at the same time increased the rate of pension from Rs. 200 to Rs. 500 to persons of 80 years and above. As the result of change in the eligibility criteria for receiving old age pension, eligibility criteria for widow pension under IGNWPS and disability pension under IGNDPS also got revised from 40-64 years to 40-59 years and from 18-64 years to 18-59 years respectively.

Elderly People in Annapurna Scheme:

  • Ministry of Rural Development launched this scheme in 2000-2001. Indigent senior citizens of 65 years of age or above who though eligible for old age pension under the National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS) but are not getting the pension are covered under the Scheme.
  • 10 kg of foodgrains per person per month are supplied free of cost under the scheme. From 2002-2003, the scheme

Feminization of the Old Population

  • According to the World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision, the current youth bulge in the country is expected to last till 2025. After that, the growth rate of the elderly is likely to take over. This report says that by 2050, women over 60 years would exceed the number of elderly men by 18.4 million, which would result in a unique characteristic of ‘feminisation’ of the elderly population in India as is being experienced in many provinces of China.
  • The predicament of elderly women is aggravated by a life time of gender-based discrimination. The gendered nature of ageing is such that universally, women tend to live longer than men. In the advanced age of 80 years and above, widowhood dominates the status of women with 71 per cent of women and only 29 per cent of men having lost their spouse.
  • Social mores inhibit women from re-marrying, resulting in an increased likelihood of women ending up alone.
  • The life of a widow is riddled with stringent moral codes, with integral rights relinquished and liberties circumvented. Social bias often results in unjust allocation of resources, neglect, abuse, exploitation, gender-based violence, lack of access to basic services and prevention of ownership of assets. Ageing women are more likely to get excluded from social security schemes due to lower literacy and awareness levels.

Longevity Dividend

When people live longer, it offers society a chance to reap a ‘longevity’ dividend. This implies that the elderly continue to contribute significantly for an unprecedented period of time.


The ‘Global Report on Ageing’ says that India has the responsibility to formulate and implement public policy on population ageing. Issues of poverty, migration, urbanisation, ruralisation and feminisation compound the complexity of this emerging phenomenon. Public policy must respond to this bourgeoning need and mainstream action into developmental planning. Gender and social concerns of elderly, particularly elderly women, must be integrated at the policy level.

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  • avinash.rajput166

    Respected Sir /Mada,
    I want the population details of senior citizens of India from 2000 to 2050, and the statistics of crime against senior citizen in India from 2000 to 2012 for my research purpose can you send me these details.

  • Habibullah Ansari

    For the welfare and care for the older persons, we must focus on the protection of already existing social support systems/traditional social institutions such as family and kinship, neighborhood bonding, community bonding and community participation and some institutions fit for the elderly social interactions at rural areas. A minimum source of livelihood must be ensured for the elderly either to whom the elderly are dependent like sons/grandsons/daughters etc or to elderly themselves. A minimum level of health care services must be provided at the doorsteps of the older persons particularly to those who live in rural remote areas.

  • Atul

    I want to construct old age home on marginal charity at outskirts of mumbai.Design part is ready & looking for funds for buying land,Construction, & Other Basic Facilities for the same.I have already enrolled comunity of my people of family,friends,business clients,who will stay comitted for this.I also need state wise data of already old age homes[Charitable & Non Charitable] What Are Legal procedures to start this.Kindly Help/Suggest.


    i am planning to do research on the older people and the need of care for them. Can you please send me the detailed census of senior citizens in 2011, especially of krishna distrisct, andhra pradesh