Aging & Longevity
One-Third of Countries Struggling to Meet Needs of Aging Senior
Norway ranked as best country for seniors, Afghanistan last and U.S.A.
Oct. 4, 2014 - People around the world are living longer, but social
policies to support their wellbeing in later life are lagging behind in
many countries. This is according a new report by HelpAge International,
developed in partnership with the University of Southampton, which
ranked Norway as the best country in the world for senior citizens,
Afghanistan the worst and the U.S.A. is number 8.
More than a third of countries are falling significantly behind those at
the top of the Global AgeWatch Index. It ranks 96 nations on the basis
of the quality of life and social and economic wellbeing of older people
(over 60s). The Index can also help governments to identify policies and
institutional contexts that lead to better lives for older people.
Professor Asghar Zaidi, from the
Centre for Research on Ageing at the University of Southampton, led the
development of the Index, working alongside HelpAge International.
“The Index points to a mismatch between advances in longevity and a lag
in the evolution of policies that empower older people,” says Professor
“Societies have been slow to embrace the positive aspects of longevity
and to see older people as a resource that, in the right circumstances,
can repay investment with extended working careers as well as more
self-reliant, healthy and independent living.”
The Global AgeWatch Index
recognizes that income, health, personal capabilities and an enabling
social environment are all important factors of the wellbeing of older
citizens. On the basis of the latest Index results, and by analysing
national policies and strategies, it finds:
Norway is the best place for older people, alongside Sweden, Switzerland
U.S.A. was ranked 8th, just ahead of Japan
The United Kingdom is ranked 11th, although it is ranked 3rd for the
Globally, by 2050, the number of over 60s will be 21 per cent of the
global population (currently 12 per cent in 2014).
Apart from Japan, the top ten countries are in Western Europe, North
America and Australasia. Israel and Estonia join the top 20.
The older populations of the three lowest-ranked countries, the West
Bank and Gaza, (94) Mozambique (95) and Afghanistan (96), still account
for less than five per cent of the total population.
(The complete list is below news report)
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report highlights the disparity between those nations at the top of the
Index and those in the lower third. For example, on income security, 26
countries scored less than half the top values set by Norway and France
(89.1 and 88.0 respectively).
lower ranked countries, policies on; pensions, educational and
employment opportunities, free healthcare and treatment of chronic
conditions, support for family and community caregivers, and subsidized
transport, have been slow to evolve compared with the fast rise in the
numbers of older people.
Toby Porter, Chief Executive of HelpAge International, said: “The
unprecedented rate and speed of population ageing presents policy-makers
with a challenge. Only if they act now will they have a chance to meet
the needs of their citizens and keep their economies going.”
Currently, two-thirds of the world’s over-60s live in low and
middle-income countries and this will rise to four-fifths by 2050. The
proportion of over-80s is growing fastest – projected to rise from two
per cent now to four per cent of the global population by 2050.
essential distinction is required between policies suitable for the
current generations of older people and those required for future
generations,” says Professor Zaidi. “Today’s older people need
protection and empowerment. For future generations the focus must be on
providing opportunities for employment during their working lives and
better mechanisms to build resilience for old age.”
Sufficient data was only available for 96 countries, resulting in many
not being included. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has
recently awarded the University of Southampton a £200K grant to conduct
an in-depth analysis into the four most populous countries in the Index:
China, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Professor Asghar Zaidi will be
the Principal Investigator of this ESRC project, in partnership with
Southampton’s Vice Chancellor,
Professor Don Nutbeam, commented:
“The Global AgeWatch Index is an impressive contribution to science and
policy making. I am delighted that the University has played such a
central role in its development.”
Global Age Watch Index Ranking
Sweden (2) Switzerland (3) Canada (4) Germany (5) Netherlands (6)
Iceland (7) United States (8) Japan (9) New Zealand (10) United Kingdom
(11) Denmark (12) Australia (13) Austria (14) Finland (15) France (16)
Ireland (17) Israel (18) Luxembourg (19) Estonia (20) Spain (21) Chile
(22) Uruguay (23) Panama (24) Czech Republic (25) Costa Rica (26)
Belgium (27) Georgia (28) Slovenia (29) Mexico (30) Argentina (31)
Poland (32) Ecuador (33) Cyprus (34) Latvia (35) Thailand (36) Portugal
(37) Mauritius (38) Italy (39) Armenia (40) Romania (41) Peru (42) Sri
Lanka (43) Philippines (44) Viet Nam (45) Hungary (46) Slovakia (47)
China (48) Kyrgyzstan (49) South Korea (50) Bolivia (51) Columbia (52)
Albania (53) Nicaragua (54) Malta (55) Bulgaria (56) El Salvador (57)
Brazil (58) Bangladesh (59) Lithuania (60) Tajikistan (61) Dominican
Republic (62) Guatemala (63) Belarus (64) Russian (65) Paraguay (66)
Croatia (67) Montenegro (68) India (69) Nepal (70) Indonesia (71)
Mongolia (72) Greece (73) Moldova (74) Honduras (75) Venezuela (76)
Turkey (77) Serbia (78) Cambodia (79) South Africa (80) Ghana (81)
Ukraine (82) Morocco (83) Lao PDR (84) Nigeria (85) Rwanda (86) Iraq
(87) Zambia (88) Uganda (89) Jordan (90) Pakistan (91) Tanzania (92)
Malawi (93) West Bank and Gaza (94) Mozambique (95) Afghanistan (96)
helps older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and
overcome poverty, so they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy
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