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India's demography at crossroads: elderly may outnumber the youth

  • Published
    22nd Jul, 2022

Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has released ‘Youth in India 2022’ report.

  • After the new economic policy in 1991, India had experienced a demographic transition with increasing share of young age population.
  • The story of demographic dividend, where the young age population serves as the spine of the economy, continues till 2016.
  • Report from UN World Population Prospects has cited that India will outnumber China in the next year, attaining the first place in the size of population.
  • The window of demographic dividend is on closing phase as, India is experiencing a downward trend in the share of young age population and rise in old age population.

Key Highlights of the ‘Youth in India 2022’ report:

  • The number of young people is expected to increase initially but start to decline in the second half of the 2011-2036 period.
  • Youth in the 15-29 age group will make up 27.2 percent of the population in 2021, which is expected to decrease to 22.7 percent by 2036.
  • The more populous states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, which saw an increase in the proportion of the youth population to the total population by 2021, are expected to decline.
  • States like Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh are expected to see a higher number of elderly people than young people by 2036.

Definition of Youth:

  • No universal definition: There is no universal definition of youth, various departments and organisations provide their own definitions.
  • Definitions from various institutions:

Organisations/ Institutions

Age Group



UN Habitat (Youth Fund)



Under 18

African Youth Charter


National Youth Policy, 2014


What are the major concerns highlighted in the Youth India Report 2022?

  • Declining young population:The proportion of youth to population has increased from 26.6% in 1991 to 27.9% in 2016, and projected to begin a declining trend reaching to 22.7% till 2036.
  • Increasing old aged population: The old aged population has increased from 6.8% in 1991 to 9.2% in 2016, and expected to increase touch 14.9% in 2036
  • Demographic transition: India’s window for demographic dividend is closing as the share of the youth population is on a declining trend and the share of the old aged population is increasing.
  • Demographic disaster: Demographic dividend with appropriate education and skill development, increasing the risk of demographic disaster.
  • Increasing dependency ratio: Rising old aged population will increase nation’s dependency ratio.
  • Decline in national savings: Increased dependency ratio will create a negative impact on the position of national savings. 
  • Impact on investment: Declined national savings reduces the investment capacity of the nation.
  • Demand for health care:A greater proportion of youth at present will result in a greater proportion of elderly in the population in future, creating a demand for better healthcare facilities.
  • Social security: Increased old aged population will put pressure on social security and the public welfare system.

What are the major issues with India’s population?

  • Education and population growth: Poverty and illiteracy have been subjected to high population growth.
  • Unemployment: High youth unemployment serves as the catalyst in the process of transforming demographic dividend into demographic disaster.
  • Resource scarcity: India with 2% of world’s total landmass accommodates around 17% of world’s total population, putting an additional pressure on resource allocation and availability.
  • Fast growth: A mismatch in the death rate and birth rate contributing to faster growth rate.

What measures can be taken?

  • Productive job creation: Creation of more productive jobs can help to utilize the demographic dividend.
  • Expansion of manufacturing sector: Manufacturing sector needs to foster to create more opportunities for jobs and employment.
  • Universal Health care facilities: More numbers of old population need robust health care facilities.
  • Sustainable Social security measures: Increasing number of old aged population will demand for better social security.
  • Implementation of labour codes and active labour market policies needs to be adopted.
  • Revision in National Youth Policy on a regular interval.

India’s Schemes and Policies for Older Persons:

  • Schemes
    • Pradhan MantriVayaVandana Scheme - 2017 by the Ministry of Finance
    • Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) - 1995 by the Ministry of Rural Development
    • National Programme for the Health Care of Elderly (NPHCE) - 2010-11 by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare
    • VarishtaMediclaim Policy - 2006 - by the National Insurance Company
    • RashtriyaVayoshriYojana - 2017 - by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
    • Varishta Pension BimaYojana - 2003 and 2014 - by the Ministry of Finance
    • Senior Citizens' Welfare Fund - 2015 - by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
    • VayoshreshthaSamman- 2005 - by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment
    • Reverse Mortgage Scheme - 2007 - by the Ministry of Finance
    • Pradhan Mantri Jan ArogyaYojana - 2018 - by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
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