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Govt has to focus on strengthening health security of old people, says NGO after Lancet study

Population Foundation of India’s statement comes days after a Lancet study predicted that India’s young population will decline by 182 million by 2100.

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New Delhi: States such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Punjab will have to put greater focus on strengthening social and health security of older people, with a recent analysis published in The Lancet forecasting that India’s young population will decline by 182 million by 2100, said NGO Population Foundation of India (PFI) in a statement Thursday.

According to the study, India’s working age population is expected to come down from 762 million in 2017 to about 580 million in 2100.

The study, published on 14 July, was titled ‘Fertility, mortality, migration, and population scenarios for 195 countries and territories from 2017 to 2100: A forecasting analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study’. It was conducted by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

The study predicted the dramatic decline in working-age populations by 2100 will hamper economic growth and lead to shifts in global powers.

According to the PFI, as India’s working age population declines, it will put an additional burden on the government’s resources and country’s economy with reduction in taxes due to a lesser working population.  

The government’s policies and programmes, the PFI said, will have to focus on enabling older people to acquire skills for enhancing their income, providing flexible employment opportunities for women with options of flexible working hours, promoting skills and entrepreneurship, income and assets for women, and adopting migrant-friendly policies.

“Limited resources will transfer the burden on to the shrinking working age population to support the healthcare and social security of their dependent elderly population,” the PFI statement said.

If there are states, which will have a huge number of ageing populations, there are another dozen states on the other side of the spectrum such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand that lag behind in demographic transition.

But, according to PFI, they have an edge of supplying a greater share of the working age population due to the large young population.

In these states, according to the PFI, the government will have to focus on a different set of indicators like ensuring universal access to quality sexual and reproductive health information and services, provisioning of education, life and vocational skills to young people.

Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director of PFI, said, “While the study projections confirm increase in India’s population till 2048, considering India is a young country today with two thirds of its population below 35 years of age, and women constituting nearly half of India’s population, a coordinated policy response to women’s and young people’s needs is critical for better health, socio and economic outcomes, by providing adequate financial investments and access to quality family planning services, female education and employment opportunities”.

Also read: By 2050, more than 20% of people in south India will be over 65. And that spells trouble

Renewed emphasis on empowering women

The analysis has also forecast that India is expected to reach its peak population of 1.6 billion by 2048, which comes twelve years faster when compared to the World Population Prospects 2019 projections of the United Nations.

India is also projected to have a continued steep decline in total fertility rate, which will reach 1.3 along with a total population of 1.1 billion in 2100.

The Lancet study concluded that it is advancement in female education attainment and access to contraceptives that will speed up the decline in fertility and stabilise population growth.

The PFI is of the view that in India, more and renewed emphasis on empowering women and enabling them to make safe and sensible choices will be a win-win situation.

“It would lead to overall progress of India through population stabilisation occurring naturally and non-coercively.”

Also read: Modi govt didn’t address jobs crisis in the first term. India’s progress depends on it now


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