Do you know what is the best country to grow old in? With every passing year, the number of elderly people in the world increases dramatically thanks to improving health care and technology. However, there are some big differences between individual countries when it comes to growing old. HelpAge International, an NGO that helps older people know their rights, challenge discrimination, and overcome poverty; developed the Global AgeWatch Index.
This index compares the quality of life of the elderly in different countries from all over the world. The Index is also used to measure progress and aims to improve the impact of policy and practice on aging populations. Based on four domains (income security, capability, health status, and enabling environment), the Index is used to create an annual ranking of the best and worst countries to grow old in. Below, in descending order, are the 10 best countries to grow old in.
10. United Kingdom
The UK, home to 65.1 million people (14.9 million of which are over the age of 60), ranks consistently high in all four domains. It particularly stands out in the enabling environment domain as a large majority of the British elderly are very satisfied with their safety, social connections, civic freedom, and access to public transport.
9. United States
The most populated country on the list, the United States has a population of 324.7 million, with around 66.5 million people over the age of 60. It ranks the highest in the capability domain, with an employment rate and educational attainment among the elderly above the regional averages. Furthermore, the elderly of America enjoy high safety and social connectedness.
Called home by 127.1 million people, out of which 41.9 million are over 60, Japan has the highest life expectancy in the world and, as a result, the highest proportion of older people in the world. The elderly of Japan enjoy healthy lives, civic freedom, high safety, and social connectedness. It does rank the lowest in the income domain, but it still has above regional and Index averages for pension income coverage.
With a population of just 300,000 (60,000 over 60), Iceland is the smallest country on this list, but it is a fantastic place to grow old in. Iceland has 100% pension income coverage, very low old age poverty and great values on both life expectancy at 60 and healthy life expectancy at 60. The elderly people of Iceland are very content with their social connectedness, safety, civic freedom, and public transport.
Out of the 17 million that call the Netherlands home, 4.2 million of them are 60 or older. This country has above average values on all indicators in the enabling environment domain, low old-age poverty rate and 100% pension income coverage. The Dutch elderly are also very well-educated, with 81% of them having secondary or higher education.
Canada's population of 36.5 million includes 8 million people over the age of 60. Having one of the cleanest environments on Earth, Canada performs best in the health domain and is above the regional average on all health indicators. The only thing that Canadian elderly people don't seem too satisfied with is public transport.
Germany, the most populous European country, is home to 82.2 million people, out of which 22.3 million are over the age of 60. Germany performs best in the capability domain with impressive values in the employment rate among the elderly (63.5%) and educational attainment (96.4%). To add to this, it also ranks highly in the enabling environment domain and health domain.
Home to 10 million people (2.5 million over the age of 60), Sweden is well-known for its high standard of living, excellent healthcare, civil liberties, high per capita income, and general prosperity. The Swedes enjoy all of these things even at an old age as the local elderly are very content with their lives. Sweden scores above average in all four domains.
Yet another North European country that regularly ranks among the best places to live is Norway - home to just 5.3 million people out of which 1.1 million are over 60. Norway scores well above average across all four domains, but it stands out in the capability domain as it boasts a very high employment rate (71.1%) and educational attainment (98.3%) among older people.
Switzerland, with a population of 8.4 million (2 million over the age of 60), is renowned for a number of things including government transparency, quality of life, civil liberties, clean environment, economic competitiveness, and human development. As a result, this beautiful Alpine country regularly ranks as the best place to live, so it's not surprising to see it at the top of this ranking either.