Tamil Nadu is the second Indian state after Kerala, where maximum women outlive men. The women in these states also become more dependent as they grow old, according to a latest survey on senior citizens across the country.
The old-age dependency ratio is the ratio between the number of persons aged above 60, (when they are generally economically inactive) and the number of persons aged between 15-64.
The female old-age dependency ratio is significantly high as compared to male in states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, for the current projected year.
In 2011, the female dependency ratio of Kerala was 20.6 per cent while that of Tamil Nadu was 20.5 per cent. In 2021, the dependency ratio of Kerala is expected to be 27.7 per cent and the same of Tamil Nadu is likely to touch 21.3 per cent. By 2031, Kerala’s female dependency ratio is expected to rise to 38.4 per cent while that of Tamil Nadu may spike to 29.7 per cent.
In the 1970s and 80s, the average age difference between the man and the woman during marriage used to be a minimum of five years and even 10 years in some cases. Thus, most male members used to die 10-15 years earlier than the female members.
“First it was in Kerala, now it is in Tamil Nadu. Many women refuse to get married before the age of 30. After completing education, they want to work for a few years before agreeing to a wedlock,” Mumbai-based International Institute of Population Studies Professor P Arokiasamy said.
Now the average age of marriage for a female is 30-32 years. “The bridegroom will be at least two or even five years older than the bride. As they get older, the man dies before the woman in most cases. The woman, either with her savings or what has been left by her husband, lives alone, mostly close to her son or daughter,” the professor said.
Another reason for women living single is the growing trend of micro families in these two states. “In Tamil Nadu, especially, once the children get married, parents decide to live separately. Hence, even after the death of the father, the mother decides to live separately,” Professor Arokiasamy said.