Indian population is not only growing but also ageing. Latest data reveals that children under fifteen years of age will make up nineteen percent of India’s population by 2050. Currently children represent one out of every four Indians. The elderly population, meanwhile, is on an upward swing. Estimates suggest the elderly will account for thirteen percent of India’s population by 2050, compared to six percent at present.
The findings suggest that India will reach replacement fertility levels in the next decade. This is not to say that India will not be adding to its population in the coming decades. There are, in fact, expected to be around 300 million more Indians in the next 32 years to make India most populous country on Earth within the next decade, outpacing China.
“India’s population is not only growing but also ageing”
However, India will not be the main driver of the world’s population growth. This distinction will go to Africa. In fact, India’s population growth will be around 22.5 percent in the next few decades – versus the global growth of 29.5 percent. As a result, India’s share of the global population can be expected to decrease, from eighteen percent currently to 17.1 percent in 2050.
This could have a number of implications for public health in India. An increase in the size of the population, as is projected to happen, is likely to increase the burden on India’s public health system – already struggling as demand vastly outmatches resources and personnel.
Adding to the burden is the anticipated growth in India’s elderly population, which will number around 340 million by 2050. Ageing increases the risk of a number of conditions, some of them chronic and necessitating lifelong management. This could further overstretch India’s healthcare system and accessing treatment could prove a challenge for many seniors in the coming years.
It is clear that India must plan so its public health system can accommodate the need. While the population will not grow at the accelerated rate of other nations and regions, it is still going to grow. Steps must be taken to ensure that this does not result in a public health crisis.