Volume 28 - Article 26 | Pages 733–762

Working life gain from gain in old age life expectancy in India

By Preeti Dhillon, Laishram Ladusingh

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Date received:19 Mar 2012
Date published:05 Apr 2013
Word count:5841
Keywords:elderly, life expectancy, old age dependency, projections, working life expectancy


Background: It is important to evaluate the interaction between increasing life expectancy and changing age patterns in work participation from the perspective of planning for the greying population of India.

Objective: This study attempts to answer the question, "Does longevity translate into longer work participation, and further, what are the prospects of old age dependency?"

Methods: We project work participation rates (WPR) using two rounds of National Sample Survey data and adopting a cohort approach up to the year 2050, then integrate these projected WPRs with projected life tables to obtain working life tables, so as to assess the average years of working life.

Results: We find a decline in WPR from 56.2 to 54.3 per cent among elderly males and an increase from 22.2 to 29.6 per cent among elderly females, during the period 2010-50. Projected working life expectancy (WLE) shows significant gain for both males and females; however, remaining working life as a percentage of remaining life will decrease for males but will increase for females. The old age dependency ratio (ODR) is significantly higher for females than for males. Adjusted ODR (AODR) will increase from 11.4 to 26.3 per cent in the same period. However, there is a 10 per cent shift from female to male contribution in ODR by 2030.

Conclusions: Longevity is not translating into longer economic activity for males. For females, longer life expectancy does prolong economic activity. In urban areas, longevity improvements support a longer working life, but the same is not true for rural areas. Moreover, adjusted ODR is higher for females in urbanized states of India.

Author's Affiliation

Preeti Dhillon - International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), India [Email]
Laishram Ladusingh - International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), India [Email]

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