New Delhi: Nearly 71
percent of India's elderly aged between 60 to 80 years are
compelled to work, said a survey conducted by United Nation
Population Fund (UNFPA) India.
The survey, partnered with many other organisations, noted that 71
percent elderly work due to economic necessity and not by choice,
and that there is a close link between current work participation
and poverty and illiteracy.
The survey was done in seven states - Kerala, Tamil Nadu,
Maharashtra, Odisha, West Bengal, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh -
where higher elderly proportion exist.
Released Monday, the survey was conducted on the socio-economic
status, work participation and benefits, income and asset holding,
living arrangement patterns and familial relations, health status,
utilisation and financing of health care, and reach and awareness
of social security schemes among the elderly.
Giving a snapshot of the work and income status of elders in
India, the survey indicated that the work participation rate among
elderly males is 39 percent as against 11 percent among women.
Majority of them were aged between 60 and 69 years.
"Even the 13 percent of elderly men and three percent of women who
are 80 years of age and above work," it said.
"Although work participation is low among women, the survey
indicates that they contribute to the family chores, enabling the
other adult members to go to work."
The elders cited that nearly 70 percent of them seek work to
support themselves and another nine percent want to supplement the
About 13 percent want to be more active through work and three
percent mentioned that there is family pressure to seek work.
As per the survey, the significant level of workforce
participation by senior citizens is an indication of economic
"Though the number of years spent in the labour force is
considerable, pension or retirement benefits are not available to
a large majority. Only less than 10 percent of all elderly get
employer's pension (3 percent women and 15 percent men), but 84
percent do not get any retirement benefits," the survey pointed
Eighteen percent of the elders get pension in Kerala and Himachal
Pradesh, while only four percent in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and
Odisha are receiving it.
Kerala and Himachal Pradesh top the chart when it comes to
retirement benefits, while Maharashtra and Odisha are at the
bottom. Tamil Nadu appears to have better retirement benefits
although in the case of pension, the state fares poorly.
Highlighting various social security schemes for elders and
awareness level, the survey informed that 70 percent were aware of
the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) and
the Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS). But
awareness of the Annapurna Scheme was rather limited to 40
It was also indicated that 85 percent of the elderly in Himachal
Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab, and Odisha are aware of the IGNOAPS,
while it was lowest in West Bengal at only 58 percent.
"Even though main target for these social security schemes are
Below Poverty Line (BPL) families, slightly more elderly in non-BPL
households than elderly in BPL households are aware of all three
schemes," the survey said.
Pointing out the way forward, the UNFPA in its findings has urged
the government to bring effective implementation of national
policy and programmes for older people.
"The government should ensure effective implementation of national
policy and programmes availability of physical, financial and
"Further, the government needs to enable civil society groups and
engage the private sector in creating an elder friendly
environment. Data and research gaps in understanding issues of the
elderly within the cultural context need to be undertaken on a
regular basis," the survey said.
According to UNFPA, another survey has indicated that the country
has around 90 million ageing people and the figure is expected to
touch a whopping 315 million by 2050.