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Senior Citizens - status in India

Who is called a Senior citizen?

According to the law, a "senior citizen" means any person being a citizen of India, who has attained the age of sixty years or above.

Status in India

  • According to Population Census 2011 there are nearly 104 million elderly persons (aged 60 years or above) in India; 53 million females and 51 million males. A report released by the United Nations Population Fund and HelpAge India suggests that the number of elderly persons is expected to grow to 173 million by 2026. 
  • According to the Report of the Technical Group on Population Projections for India and States 2011-2036, there are nearly 138 million elderly persons in India in 2021 (67 million males and 71 million females) and is further expected to increase by around 56 million elderly persons in 2031.
  • Both the share and size of elderly population is increasing over time. From 5.6% in 1961 the proportion has increased to 8.6% in 2011. The proportion has increased to 10.1% in 2021 and further likely to increase to 13.1% in 2031. For males it was marginally lower at 8.2%, while for females it was 9.0%. 
  • It is interesting to note that upto Population Census 1991, the number of elderly females exceeded the number of elderly males. However, in the last two decades, the trend has been reversed and the elderly males outnumbered the elderly females. Further, it is projected that the number of elderly females will exceed the number of males in 2031.
  • As regards rural and urban areas, as per 2011 census, 71% of elderly population resides in rural areas while 29 % is in urban areas. 
  • As per the Report of the Technical Group on Population Projections for India and States 2011-2036, State-wise data on elderly population of 21 major states divulge that Kerala has the maximum proportion of elderly people in its population (16.5%) followed by Tamil Nadu (13.6%), Himachal Pradesh
    (13.1%), Punjab (12.6%) and Andhra Pradesh (12.4%) in 2021. On the contrary, proportion is the least in the States of Bihar (7.7%) followed by Uttar Pradesh (8.1%) and Assam (8.2%). 
  • The life expectancy at birth during 2014-18 was 70.7 for females as against 68.2 years for males. At the age of 60 years average remaining length of life was found to be about 18.2 years (17.4 for males and 18.9 for females) and that at age 70 was 11.6 years (11.1 for males and 12.1 for females). Kerala has got the highest life expectancy at birth, followed by Punjab and Maharashtra. The life expectancy at birth in Kerala is 72.5 years and 77.9 years for males and females respectively as per the SRS Report 2014-18.
  • For 2018, the age specific death rate per 1000 population for the age group 60 - 64 years was 20.4 for rural areas and 17.7 for urban areas. Altogether it was 19.5 for the age group 60 - 64 years. As regards, sex - wise, it was 22.2 for males and 16.7 for females.
  • The old - age dependency ratio climbed from 10.9% in 1961 to 14.2% in 2011 and further projected to increase to 15.7% and 20.1% in 2021 and 2031 respectively for India as a whole. For females and males , the value of the ratio was 14.9 % and 13.6% in 2011 and the projected dependency ratio for
    female and male is 14.8% and 16.7% respectively in 2021.
  • Among economically dependent elderly men in 2017-18, it has been observed that in both rural and urban areas they were financially supported mainly by their own children followed by their spouses, grand-children and by others. In case of elderly women, more or less similar pattern has been observed
  • Periodic labour Force Survey (PLFS), 2018-19, about 65% of elderly men and 18% of elderly women in the age-group 60-64 years had participated in economic activity. However, there is wider difference in rural and urban areas. In rural areas, 72% of elderly men and 21% of elderly women participated in economic activities whereas in urban areas, it was only 51% among elderly men and 10% among elderly women. Similarly, in the age  group 65 years and above, participation in economic activity by the elderly male and female is seen to be at a much reduced level. 
  • The percent of literates among elderly persons increased from 27% in 1991 to 44% in 2011.The literacy rates among elderly females (28%) is less than half of the literacy rate among elderly males (59%). 
  • The most prevalent disability among elderly persons is locomotor disability followed by hearing disability and visual disability
  • In the age - group of 60 - 64 years, 76% persons were married while 22% were widowed. Remaining 2% were either never married or divorced.
  • The percentage of female elderly persons (60 years and above) staying in the other’s houses is more than double vis-à-vis male elderly persons. Also, the
    percentage of female elderly persons living alone not as an inmate of old age home is also much higher as compared to male elderly persons. 
  • The highest crime rate per lakh population against the senior citizens (60 years and above) has been found in the Delhi (93.8) followed by Gujarat (85.4),
    Chandigarh (74.5), Madhya Pradesh (73.2) and Chhattisgarh (67.3) whereas UTs of Lakshadweep, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Puducherry have reported no crime against the senior citizens. Similarly, the States of Assam, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Meghalaya and Uttarakhand have reported less than one crime against the senior citizens.

Source : Elderly in India 2021

Administrative set-up

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, as the name suggests, is to ensure equitable treatment to such sections of society which has suffered social inequalities, exploitation, discrimination and injustice. The Social Defence Division of the Ministry mainly caters to the requirements of Senior Citizens, besides victims of alcoholism and substance abuse, Transgender Persons and Beggars / Destitute.

The Ministry develops and implements Acts, Policies and Programmes for welfare of Senior Citizens in collaboration with State Governments/ Union Territory Administrations to ensure that Senior Citizens may lead a secured, dignified and productive life.

Source : Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment

Related resources

  1. Long-term Care of Older Persons in India

Last Modified : 1/17/2022



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