One-fourth of Keralites to be 60-plus by mid-century

A fast-aging society, a quarter of the population in Kerala will be 60-plus by the mid-century, seen as a flip-side of its commendable achievements in social sector and family welfare.

Updated: Sep 17, 2010, 15:49 PM IST

Thiruvananthapuram: A fast-aging society, a quarter of the population in Kerala will be 60-plus by the mid-century, seen as a flip-side of its commendable achievements in social sector and family welfare.

In 2001 there were only 10 elderly persons for 100 people in Kerala, which, by the middle of the century is projected to grow almost a quarter of the state`s total population.

The projection was made by demographic experts at a seminar organised by the state Planning Board jointly with UNDP, which concluded here yesterday.

As per the 2001 census, Kerala accounted for 11 percent of the country`s 77 million elderly. A child born in Kerala was expected to live for 71 years. Women in Kerala produced just 1.6 children, as a result of which, the younger age group tended to shrink.

According to planners and health experts, the emerging scenario would make geriatric welfare and health care a major area of concern for the state government requiring
focussed planning and formulation of strategies.

Now in the final stages of the demographic transition of low fertility and mortality, Kerala has surpassed all the other Indian states in achieving the goals of the national
family planning policy including population control.

Though the state continues to be a role model for human development in India, inter-regional disparities, reduced financing for human development, increase in elderly people
and special needs of marginalised sections pose a challenge, the participants at the seminar said.

While Kerala had brought much of its elderly population under various welfare pension schemes, some of the participants mooted formulation of a universal pension scheme of Rs 500 to all those who had crossed 60 years of age.

According to Patrice Coeur-Bizot, UNDP Representative in India, Kerala`s development was marked by the paradox of high levels of human development even as per capita income levels remained much lower.

Prof Prabhat Patnaik, noted economist and vice-chairman of the state Planning Board, said the seminar was meant to discuss the strategies for strengthening the stare`s human
development plans and address the problems of particularly vulnerable groups like tribals and fisherfolk.

PTI