01.01.05. Ageing and life expectancy | India

01.01.05. Ageing and life expectancy | India

05 Jul 2022

Life expectancy

According to the World Health Statistics report (World Health Organization, 2018), life expectancy in India is estimated to be 68.8 years on average, with 67.4 years for males and 70.3 years for females. According to the Elderly in India report (National Statistical Office, 2021), during the period between 2014-2018, the life expectancy at birth was 70.7 years for females and 68.2 years for males. Whereas the sex ratio for elderly population is projected to be 1065 females per 1000 males in 2021 (National Statistical Office, 2021). This is higher than the previous decade, wherein the sex ratio for the elderly population was reported as 1028 females per 1000 males (National Statistical Office, 2021). The report also states that the overall life expectancy has increased in both, rural and urban area in India, with life expectancy at birth having increased from 48 years (1970-1975) to 68 years (2014-2018) in rural areas and from 58.9 years (1970-1975) to 72.6 years (2014-2018) in urban areas.

Life expectancy at different ages

Life expectancy at age 0, 60, and 70 between the period 2014-2018 was reported to be 69.4 years, 18.2 years, and 11.6 years, respectively (National Statistical Office, 2021).

Median age of the population

As per the United Nation’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the median age of the population in India in 2015 was estimated to be 26.8 years (United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, 2019b).

Total fertility rate

As per the National Family Health Survey-5 2019-21 (International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), 2021), the fertility rate (children per woman) has dropped to 2 from the 2.2 reported in 2015-16.

Total population aged 65 years and above

According to the World Bank (2020c), in 2020, the percentage of the total population aged 65 years and above was 7%.

Total dependency ratio

The World Population Prospects (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division, 2019a) estimate that in 2015, the total dependency ratio (ratio of population aged 0-14 and 65 plus per 100 population 15-64) in India was 51.6 and they projected that this would decrease to 47.5 by 2050.

Old-age dependency ratio

The Elderly in India report (National Statistical Office, 2021) provides the old-age dependency ratio (number of people 60 and above per 100 working age population (15-59 years)) trends in India. According to the report the old age dependency ratio rose from 10.9% in 1961 to 14.2% in 2011. Population projections estimate that there will be a further increase concerning the old age dependency ratio to 15.7% and 20.1% in 2021 and 2031, respectively (National Statistical Office, 2021). An earlier Elderly in India report (Borah et al., 2016) states that there is an increasing trend in the gap between male and female old-age dependency ratio, which was reported in 2011 as 13.6% and 14.9%, respectively. As per the projections for 2021, this increasing trend in the gap has been consistent, with old-age dependency ratio for male and female estimated as 14.8% and 16.7%, respectively (National Statistical Office, 2021). With respect to urban and rural areas, the old age dependency ratio according to Census 2011 was 15.1% and 12.4% respectively (Borah et al., 2016; National Statistical Office, 2021). The significant difference in old-age dependency ratios between urban and rural areas has been attributed to the relatively higher proportion of working age population living in urban areas (Borah et al., 2016; National Statistical Office, 2021).

States variations

State-wise variations in elderly population exist. According to the 2011 Census, Kerala (12.6%), Goa (11.2%), and Tamil Nadu (10.4%) report the largest proportion of the elderly in their population (Borah et al., 2016). Whereas Dadra & Nagar Haveli (4.0 %), Arunachal Pradesh (4.6 %), and Meghalaya (4.7 %) report the least proportion of elderly individuals in their population in 2011 (Borah et al., 2016). In addition, population projections for 2021 estimate that the proportions of the elderly have reached 16.5% and 13.6% in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, respectively (National Statistical Office, 2021).

Future projections

It is projected that the Indian population aged 60 and over will increase from 8% in 2015 to 19% in 2050 (United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 2017). By the end of the century, it is estimated that 34% of the total Indian population will comprise of elderly people (aged 60+) (UNFPA, 2017).


Borah, H., Shukla, P., Jain, K., Kimar, S., Prakash, C., & Gajrana, K. (2016). Elderly in India 2016.Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India.

International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS). (2021). National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) 2019-21 India. Mumbai. http://rchiips.org/nfhs/NFHS-5_FCTS/India.pdf

National Statistical Office. (2021). Elderly in India. National Statistical Office, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. Government of India. Available from: https://www.mospi.gov.in/documents/213904/301563/Elderly%20in%20India%2020211627985144626.pdf/a4647f03-bca1-1ae2-6c0f-9fc459dad64c

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). (2017). ‘Caring for Our Elders: Early Responses’ – India Ageing Report – 2017. UNFPA, New Delhi, India. Available from: https://india.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/India%20Ageing%20Report%20-%202017%20%28Final%20Version%29.pdf

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2019a). World Population Prospects 2019 – Data Query. Available, from https://population.un.org/wpp/DataQuery/

United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2019b). World Population Prospects 2019, Online Edition. Rev. 1.

World Health Organization. (2018). World Health Statistics Monitoring Health for SDGs. https://doi.org/Geneva: World Health Organization; 2018. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO. Available from: https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/272596/9789241565585-eng.pdf

World Bank (2020c). Proportion of population aged 65 and above. Available from: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.65UP.TO.ZS