Social Security: Is Young Bharat Prepared to Age?

The Centre for the Study of Finance and Economics (CSFE), at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi conducted a One-Month Online National Spring School Program on ‘Fundamentals of Public Policy- Cohort 2.0’ from March 1st, 2024 to March 30th 2024.

The course, spread over one month, provided a unique opportunity to gain in-depth insight into public policy. The course led by esteemed experts, empowered the participants to expand their thinking and enhance their understanding of public policy, to be able to make formidable contributions to policy-making. Through a combination of engaging lectures, interactive workshops, networking, guidance by thematic experts and practical exercises.

On day 2 of the ‘Fundamentals of Public Policy- Cohort 2.0’, Prof Mukul Asher Former Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore; Visiting Distinguished Professor, IMPRI, explained how India can be prepared for ageing population, since Indian population is projected to age rapidly.

Importance of studying Demographics-

Prof. Asher quoted Peter Drucker while explaining the complicated study of demographics. Prof. Asher highlighted, that demographics has only been studied in terms of population counting and not in a comprehensive manner. Roy Amlan’s work on demographics affecting economics, finance and policy was discussed by Prof. Asher while explaining the possible approach to be adopted for studying demographics.

Demographics, according to Prof. Asher influences many things, some of them includes economic growth, governance and geo-politics. Prof. Asher while decoding the demographics of world population, concluded that in the 1950s, the population was symmetrical in terms of young and old age population. However, studies reveal that by 2050s the world population will be skewed with more elderly population. This asymmetrical population, according to Prof. Asher can be attributed to the declining growth of world population which would go down to 0.4% by 2050 as studies report.

India’s Demographic trend: Ageing Population-

Prof Asher reported that the total fertility rate (TFR) of India has declined to 2, from 5.7 in 1950. This, below replacement level population growth will lead to an increase in ageing population. Prof. Asher also delineated diverse data sets of Indian states that will witness different levels growing elderly people. Another interesting data regarding demographics elucidated by Prof. Asher during the course of the session, was the increased life expectancy among women as compared to men. Such figures, according to Prof. Asher intensifies the need of public policy to address the problems of ageing population.

At individual level, Prof. Asher outlined steps taken to be prepared for older age. The most crucial strategy according to Prof. Asher is to diversify the sources of wealth- property, financial investment, and skills to yield income at old age.

Prof. Asher lauding the steps taken by the government to cater to elderly population delineated the health schemes to ensure quality service is being provided to the people and specially the elderly. However, Prof Asher indicated towards to lack of well researched contingency liability on the government in providing for the services. Prof. Asher also portrayed the need to ensure people are provided services close to their homes.

Enumerating the efforts towards of making public policy elderly oriented, Prof. Asher elucidated the importance of developing skills and certifying those skills among elderly people. Market oriented skills among the elderly population will not only become an active source of income but will also ensure their better physical and mental health. Financial literacy among the old-age population, according to Prof. Asher will ensure a secure economic future of not only the elderly people, but also for India. Prof. Asher explained- ‘rule of 72’ for ensuring more savings in old age.

Concluding the session, Prof. Asher outlined that India will be ageing moderately rapidly and its demographic advantage with respect to its competitors is going to remain. Total Fertility Rate being below replacement will have social, economic and political implication that needs to be managed.

This article was published by Reetwika Mallick, a research intern at IMPRI.

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