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UN World Social Report 2023

Highlight of UN World Social Report 2023

  • Number of persons aged 65 years or older worldwide is expected to double over the next three decades.
    • The elderly population will reach 1.6 billion in 2050, accounting for more than 16 per cent of the global population.
  • Population ageing is progressing more rapidly in developing countries than it did historically in more developed countries.
  • Longer lifespan globally: People are living longer due to improvements in health and medical therapies, greater access to education and reductions in fertility.
    • 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.
    • Reason: Social and economic improvements is driving age longevity.
  • 80+ Rising Faster: People aged 80 and older are the fastest growing portion of the total population in many countries.
    • It is projected to increase by more than 200 per cent in the next three decades.
  • Inequality in ageing: In almost all societies, women live longer than men on average and the rich longer than the poor.
    • Reasons: Poor nutrition and exposure to environmental and occupational hazards that are more common among men and people with limited income and education.
    • Impact: Gaping disparities in old age could derail progress made towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 10 on Reducing Inequalities.
  • Developed vs Developing regions: In more developed regions, pensions and other public transfer systems, provide over two thirds of the consumption by older persons.
    • In less developed regions, older persons tend to work longer and rely more on accumulated assets or family assistance.

India and Ageing

  • In India, by the year 2050, it is expected that the number of elderly in the country would reach 324 million.
  • According to the National Commission on Population, share of the elderly (persons aged 60 years and above) in India’s population is growing fast and may reach 18% by 2036.
  • According to Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI), least five per cent of India’s elderly population (aged 60 years and above) stated they experienced ill-treatment in 2020.
    • The abuse can be classified as physical, sexual, psychological or financial.
    • The ill-treatment is relatively more frequent among elderly women and those living in rural areas.
    • The obstacle of elder abuse cannot be adequately solved if older people’s essential needs for food, shelter, protection and access to healthcare are not met.

Way Forward

  • Effective systems of old-age support: Rights and well-being of older people must be at the centre of collective efforts to achieve a sustainable future.
  • Promoting Equal Opportunities: Countries can reap the benefits by giving everyone the chance to grow older in good health by promoting equal opportunities from birth.
  • Rethink policies, expand opportunities: Countries must rethink long-held policies and practices associated with livelihoods and work.
    • Introducing flexible retirement ages to accommodate a broad range of personal situations and preferences.
    • Expanding decent work opportunities for women and other groups traditionally excluded from the formal job market.
  • Rethink Social Protection Systems: To secure well-being during older age, and to expand the productive capacity of the economy.
  • Focus on active ageing: It allows people to realise their potential for physical, social and mental well-being throughout life and to participate in society according to their needs, desires and capacities.

2021-2030 as the Decade of Healthy Aging

  • 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 (MIPAA) that aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals.


  • It is the first global agreement which recognises older people as contributors to the development of their societies, and which commits governments to include ageing in all social and economic development policies.
  • Madrid Plan makes recommendations such as:
    • Discrimination and decision making: Governments should promote the implementation of human rights conventions and other human rights instruments.
    • Work and pensions: Older people should be enabled to work for as long as they want to and can do so.
    • Health: Older people should have the same access to preventive and curative care and rehabilitation as other groups.
    • Supportive environments: Older people should have access to decent housing, receive support if they are care givers and be free from neglect, abuse and violence.

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what is MIPAA?

It is the first global agreement which recognises older people as contributors to the development of their societies, and which commits governments to include ageing in all social and economic development policies.

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