THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala is greying faster than any other state in the country. The state has a life expectancy of more than 71 years and with a fertility rate of 1.6, the older age group is expanding and the younger age group is shrinking, says a study conducted by S Irudaya Rajan and U S Mishra of Centre for Development Studies (CDS) here.
Kerala has been adding one million to the elderly population every successive year since 1981 and such an increase of the elderly population has another feature - the 80-plus population of Kerala has increased by 0.1 million every Census year since 1981 till 2001, and in 2011, the figure stands at 0.2 million, finds the study, titled ‘Situation of Elderly in Kerala: Evidences from Kerala Ageing Survey 2014’.
According to the 2011 Census, Kerala accommodates 4 million elderly people, finds the study done primarily with the objective of identifying the socio-economic, psychological and demographic profile of the elderly in Kerala. Census 2011 figures say that in India 8.6 per cent of the people are aged 60 and above, compared to 7.4 per cent in 2001.
The share of Kerala’s elderly in the total elderly population of India is four per cent. According to the 2011 Census, more than 12 per cent of Kerala’s population comprises the elderly.
In terms of the proportion of elderly in the population in 2001 as well as 2011, Kerala ranks first, with Punjab and Himachal Pradesh occupying the second position, followed by Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.
In India in general and in Kerala in particular, families have traditionally supported elderly persons. In Kerala, only 3.1 per cent of the elderly are living alone in their houses. Among them, the 70-79 age group (4 per cent) comprise the major section. After 1971, there has been a gradual decrease in the population growth rate, along with an increase in the growth rate of the elderly. Though Kerala has registered an impressive annual exponential growth of 0.5 per cent in 2011, its elderly population is growing at a perpetual rate of 2.3 per cent. The growth rate is high among the elderly aged 70-80 and above. In other words, along with the declining growth rate of the population, the proportion of elderly in Kerala is increasing over the years.
There also seems to be no significant gender divide of the elderly according to the place of residence in Kerala which could very well be owing to the illusive rural-urban divide in the state. While the elderly in rural Kerala assumed a share of 10.5 per cent as against the 12.6 per cent in urban Kerala as of 2001, a similar gap is more or less maintained even by the year 2011, reveals the study report released recently.