- India’s elderly population is on the rise.
- As per surveys, the share of elders, as a percentage of the total population in the country, is expected to increase from around 8.6% in 2011 to almost 12.5% by 2026, and surpass 19.5% by 2050.
- Given this sharp rise there is an urgent need to create a more robust eldercare ecosystem in India, especially in the post-COVID phase.
- The government is exploring various ways to promote the idea of silver economy.
Silver Economy: An Explainer
- The Silver Economy is dedicated to the elderly in our societies.
- It is the system of production, distribution and consumption of goods and services aimed at using the purchasing potential of older and ageing people.
- It seeks to satisfy their consumption, living and health needs.
- It impacts every market and industry, such as: home accommodation, transport, food industry, insurance, robotics, health and e-health, communications, internet, sports and leisure.
Why focus on senior citizens?
- Drivers of economy: Older people are no longer at the periphery of the economy. Seniors are now significant players in the economy and their role will get even bigger.
- High income/savings: Since older people tend to have both high incomes compared to younger populations and high needs, they are major consumers.
- High population: There are currently 750 million seniors in the world, and that figure will cross the 1 billion marks by 2030.
- Wealth accumulation: Seniors are the wealthiest age cohort in the world, together with older professionals (45-64 years).
- Many of the world’s “new seniors” will be in Asia and less wealthy than the current average.
- Burden of diseases
- Still, because they are relatively richer and relatively older, Western economies will remain the top “silver economies” into the next decade.
Issues in India
India is a young country with elaborate socio-cultural intricacies and an aging population.
- Dependency: A large section of the senior population in India is still dependent on the joint family set up for their senior care and post-retirement needs, with financial planning for retirement taking a back seat.
- High population: An increase in the number of seniors in India will reduce the percentage of India’s human resource capital and its ability to drive economic growth.
- Increased retirement age: Many seniors in India expects to work beyond retirement age to raising the retirement age in India as longevity, expanded social benefits, increased homeownership, etc.
- Second-life income: In developed economies a major share of the retirement income comes from social security. While in emerging markets like India, people rely on their personal savings as a primary source.
- Low insurance penetration: This highlights the inadequacy and underscores the critical need to streamline retirement planning schemes and strengthen the pension programs in the country. There is a lacks of social security framework.
As the senior population grows in size, India will need to look at them both as an important consumer segment as well as an essential part of its ambitious growth plan.
An understanding of their needs, preferences, and lifestyles will be critical in unlocking the economic potential of this segment.
 National Policy for Senior Citizens
- The government of India has already taken steps in this direction with the introduction of the Draft National Policy for Senior Citizens 2020.
- The Draft NPSC seeks to create a strong silver economy that caters to the new and evolving needs of seniors in the country.
 SAGE Project
- A scheme has been launched to promote private enterprises that bring out innovation in products and processes for the benefit of the elders.
- This project is known as Senior Aging Growth Engine or SAGE.
- It will identify, evaluate, verify and aggregate the needs of elder persons to deliver products, solutions and services.
 SACRED Portal
- Another portal SACRED- Senior Able Citizens for Re-Employment in Dignity, recently launched will connect the senior citizens with job providers in the private sector.
(1) Universal pension program:
- Income security in later years stems from multiple sources such as pensions, insurances (medical and life), investments.
- This provides an opportunity for India to create a universal pension program for its 1.3 billion people.
(2) Financial incentives:
- There is a pressing need to promote and facilitate fiscal planning in the early years and supplement it with senior-friendly tax structures and integrated insurance products.
- Such measures can help provide multiple income options to seniors to help them embrace a lifestyle of their choice.
(3) Regulatory mechanism:
- Income generated from savings is the go-to for most elders.
- A regulatory mechanism will set a viable base rate for the interest accrued on senior citizen deposits and ensure market dips don’t affect retirement income and senior-specific saving plans.
- As the demography undergoes changes of such massive proportions, we need to figure out ways to supplement the impending deficit.
- Seniors can help elevate the economy by being active participants in both the income generation and income expenditure side of the market.
- Keeping senior citizens meaningfully engaged, will also help them lead fuller lives and help achieve a healthy work-life balance.
- This necessitates robust policy support to implement programs that encourage and simplify the process for seniors to opt for post-retirement employment.