Tata-Dhan Academy: PDM


Programme in Development Management

A Problem of Development: An Emerging Dimension of Ageing Population in Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu

Development is not always good for everybody. Sometimes it is called as the destitute of development (Baverstock, n.d.), and the problem of development (Jena and Pandey, 2004). In both of these cases, development takes place at the cost of a section of population in the society, most often people from backward regions. But, the problem of development in an overall prosperous region like Kanyakumari district is hardly discussed in the development literature.

Considering the life expectancy in India, the population at the age of 60 or above is considered as ageing. Taking care of this ageing population is seen as the moral responsibility of the respective family members and the society. But given the socio-economic limitations of the family or society, the role of the government as a welfare state to protect the ageing population is very important. While a higher life expectancy is generally considered as an indicator of development, this does not ensure a healthy and active life. Other things remaining the same, a higher growth of ageing population, would increase the load on government in terms of providing social security to them. Moreover, it creates the potential economic problems such as effects on productivity (Jones, 2005), innovation, savings, and health spending.

One issue about the ageing population is that after a certain age (around 60 years) productivity appears to decline (Jones, 2005). The extent of this inverse relationship depends on the nature of their work.

The share of ageing population in Kanyakumari (9.81 percent) was comparatively higher than the state (8.83 percent). It might be due to the presence of the following development aspects in the district: (1) lower fertility rate, (2) sluggish population growth rate, (3) better health services, and (4) higher life expectancy at birth. However, the work participation rate (WPR) among the ageing population in Kanyakumari was much lower (28.18 percent) than Tamil Nadu as a whole (43.08 percent) (Table 1).

The higher ageing population share with lower WPR reveals that there might be a need of higher social security expenditure. Moreover, the rate of social security expenditure needs to be increased if the above trend of ageing population and WPR continues. However, it is found that the share of expenditure on social services (which includes social security expenditure) to total expenditure (through the treasury) in the district has declined during 2004-05 and 2009-10 (Table 2). Unfortunately, the data on age wise productivity is not available. However, based on the above facts, necessary steps have to be taken to increase the WPR of ageing population with their confidence and comfort.

Damodar Jena, Faculty


  • Baverstock, P. (n.d.). The price of progress: Buying development from the poor. Forum of Fact-Finding, Raipur.
  • Jena, D. and Pandey, B. (2004). Poor and Marginalised People in Orissa. The report submitted to the Department for International Development (DFID), New Delhi Office. Bhubaneswar: Institute for Socio-Economic Development.
  • Jones, B. F. (2005). Age and great invention. Working Paper 11359, Cambridge: National Bureau of Economic Research.

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