UN World Social Report 2023

UN World Social Report 2023

News: The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) published the World Social Report 2023, with the theme “Leaving No One Behind in an Aging World“.

Key Findings:
• The elderly population will reach 1.6 billion in 2050, accounting for more than 16% of the global population.
• North Africa, West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are expected to experience the fastest growth in the number of older people over the next three decades. Also, Europe and North America combined now have the highest share of older persons.
• This demographic shift brings into question current arrangements of old-age support in young and old countries.
• Gender inequality also persists into old age. Economically, women’s lower levels of formal labor market participation, shorter working lives and lower wages during working years lead to more economic insecurity in later life.

What is Ageing of Population?
• It refers to the process by which the proportion of older individuals in a society increases over time. This is typically measured by the proportion of the population that is over a certain age, such as 65 years or older. 
• According to the National Commission on Population, the share of the elderly in India’s population, close to 9% in 2011, is growing fast and may reach 18% by 2036.
• Life expectancy in India has more than doubled since Independence from around 32 years in the late 1940s to 70 years or so today.

What are issues associated with ageing population?
• With age, people are more likely to face chronic physical health conditions and require more healthcare service. This can subsequently lead to increased cost for governments, insurers and family. 
• According to a recent survey, 30% to 50% of elderly people had symptoms that make them depressed due to feelings of powerlessness, loneliness. A large majority of elderly persons living alone are women, especially widows.
• Children these days also show negligence towards their old parents who are left to fend off themselves. They suffer from depression, loneliness and isolation. 
• Lack of Financial literacy and financial planning especially retirement planning also makes life difficult for parents in their old age. 
• Lastly, ageing populations can put a strain on social security systems, as a smaller proportion of the population is working and contributing to the system, while a larger proportion is retired and drawing benefits. 

What are policy actions suggested by the Report?
• To promote labour market participation and increased productivity, uphold good health and prevent poverty.
• To reduce inequality and promote economic security at older ages in a fiscally sustainable manner, taking into account both pensions and health care.

What are the schemes and programme for welfare of elderly in India?
• Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen’s Act, 2007 - The Act provides for: maintenance of parents/ senior citizens by children/ relatives made obligatory and justiciable through Tribunals; revocation of transfer of property by senior citizens in case of neglect by relatives; penal provision for abandonment of senior citizens etc. 
• National Action Plan for the Welfare of Senior Citizens (NAPSrC) - This Plan takes care of the top four needs of the senior citizens viz., financial security, food, health care and human interaction /life of dignity.
• National Awards for Senior Citizens-Vayoshreshtha Samman - To recognize the efforts made by eminent senior citizens and Institutions involved in rendering distinguished services for the cause of elderly persons.
• Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana (RVY) - Scheme for providing Physical Aids and Assisted-Living Devices for Senior Citizens. 
• Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY): It is a Pension Scheme launched in 2017 and extended up to 2023. 
• SACRED Portal for Elderly – It was launched by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. The portal was launched to cater senior citizens seeking job opportunities.  
• Additionally, The World Health Organization and the UN have designated 2021-2030 as the Decade of Healthy Aging, building on the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing is a good step for elderly empowerment. 

Way Forward:
• Financial Security for Elderly - Increase pension coverage and improve pension schemes to ensure older citizens are financially secure. 
• Increased Pvt Sector participation - Encourage private sector participation in the provision of elderly care services through Corporate Social Responsibility. Private sector can also help in the development of age-friendly infrastructure and environments to support older citizens.
• There is a need to Increase funding for healthcare and social security programs to support older citizens. Also, promoting healthy ageing and preventive healthcare can reduce the burden of chronic disease.
• Sensitizing children about the issues that elderly population face. Value education, field trip to old age homes can be promoted. 
• Old Age Self Help Groups can be formed at the local level linked with handloom and handicraft activities to keep elderly socially and physically active and busy. 
• Government can do its part by motivating elderly population to participate in sports activities, cultural activities so that their time can be utilized wisely. 

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