Better life-expectancy: Time to perhaps look at pushing retirement to a later age

By: |
September 29, 2020 5:00 AM

The report shows how much work needs to be done to bridge the gaps in terms of life expectancy—that is influenced by other parameters such as nutritional adequacy, access to sanitation, access to healthcare, the prevalence of violence, etc.

Indians are now living slightly longer than they did a few years back—Sample Registration System Based Life Table 2014-18 show that the average life expectancy at birth for India is now 69.4 years—an increase of 0.4 years from 2013-17. Women, as has been the trend for a few decades now (since 1981-85), are expected to outlive men by a few years, with life expectancy at birth being 70.7 years versus 68.2 years for males.

However, this trend is not visible for two low-income states, Bihar and Jharkhand. The life expectancy at birth is not uniform across regions; for instance, a rural male in Chhattisgarh has a life expectancy of 63 years while the average life expectancy for an urban female in Himachal Pradesh is around 81 years—a difference of 18 years. The highest life expectancy for males was in Delhi (73.8 years), and highest for females was in Kerala (77.9 years).

The report shows how much work needs to be done to bridge the gaps in terms of life expectancy—that is influenced by other parameters such as nutritional adequacy, access to sanitation, access to healthcare, the prevalence of violence, etc. There have to be region-specific measures to address these gaps, too.

While China reached these life expectancy levels in the 1990s, neighbours Bangladesh and Nepal that once lagged India have long since shot past the country. The promise to increase healthcare expenditure—though this took a pandemic to enter policy-talk—will certainly be beneficial.

At the same time, there has to be a conversation about the social security needs of a longer living population; tricky questions on how to fund this have to be dealt with. One way could be to look at pushing retirement to a later age than now.

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