Kerala is ageing faster than the rest of India with regard to demographic transition in the Economic Review 2019, tabled by Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac in the state Assembly on Thursday.
"In 1961, Kerala's 60 plus population was 5.1 percent, which was just below the national level of 5.6 percent. Since 1980, Kerala has overtaken the rest of India and in 2001 the proportion of the old age population rose to 10.5 percent as against all India average of 7.5 percent. By 2011, 12.6 percent of Kerala's population is past 60 years, compared to the all India average of 8.6 percent. By 2015, population data show that it increased to 13.1 per cent in Kerala against the all India average of 8.3 per cent (SRS Statistical Report 2015). Currently, 48 lakh people (projected figures of the population in 2018) of Kerala are 60 years and above; 15 per cent of them are past 80 years, the fastest-growing group among the old," says Economic Review.
Women outnumber men among the 60 plus and among them, the majority are widows. Kerala has got the highest life expectancy at birth of 72.5 years and 77.8 years for males and females respectively as per the SRS Report 2013-17.
Listing the factors for the high old-age population Economic Review points out, "Generally, life expectancy among women is higher than men at the all-India level also, however, it is much higher in Kerala. General improvement in health care facilities is one of the main reasons for the continuing increase in the proportion of the population of senior citizens."
Men marrying women a few years younger is another cause for the high proportion of widows among the old. It is a worrisome revelation that National Sample Survey (NSS) 2015 had found that 65 per cent of the aged population is affected by morbidity.
A large proportion of old age people in Kerala are widows. As per Census 2011, among the old age in the range of 60-69, 23 per cent are widows and among those above 70 years, it is 43.06 per cent. By 2025, about 20 per cent of the population would be elderly and the consequent demand on the social security system would be substantial, says Economic Review.