Global AgeWatch recently released their index listing of countries to grow old in. This new study ranks some 91 countries based on 4 domains: income security, health status, employment and education, and enabling environment.
The AgeWatch Global Index is innovative in trying to encompass a human development approach in its consideration of the welfare of older people. This method seeks to put the individual as the focus of economic development. As the global age of people increase and birth rates continue to decrease, many countries will see larger proportions of older people than before. The study seeks to offer guidance in where countries can improve in increasing the wellbeing of their ageing population.
The domain of income security is described by access to an adequate level of income as well as the capability to wield financial power independently. Health status is determined by the overall well-being of the elderly as well as the risks of ill-health and disability, while the enabling environment looks at the opportunities given to older people to be able to live self-reliantly (such as public transportation). The domain of employment and education further ascertains the capabilities of older citizens.
The domains are further determined by 13 overall indicators, including poverty rates and average income among the elderly, health and life expectancy from age 60, physical safety and transportation, and civic freedom.
While Income Security does play a large role, the other factors are not to be undermined. The United Kingdom, for instance, drops to number 13 on the Index, ranking quite high at #10 for income security, but at #24 for employment and education. The bottom 3 on the list included Pakistan, Tanzania, and Afghanistan, respectively.
Coming in at number one is Sweden, one of three Nordic countries in the top ten. The country's high income/ pension and health levels as well as its opportunities for self-reliance for older people, in terms of employment and public transportation, bring Sweden to the forefront in highest quality of life for those over 60.
Norway actually ranks at an impressive number three in the world in income and number one in the domain of employment and education opportunities for its older citizens. However, its enabling environment ranks at number 22, bringing Norway just under Sweden in the AgeWatch Index.
Germany is one of three Western European countries in the top 10. Ranking very highly in all four domains, it rivals Sweden in its quality of care for seniors.
The Netherlands actually ranks number one in enabling environment and four in income security, but it lags slightly in its health status and employment opportunities for older citizens. Nonetheless, it ranks at a respectable number four.
Our neighbor to the north, Canada ranks highly in enablement and excels in health care, ranking second in the world in health status.
Switzerland comes first in health status. Lagging slightly in income security, Switzerland nevertheless has ample opportunity for self-reliance for those over the age of 60.
The beautiful country of New Zealand lands in the top ten due its fantastic ranks in health status and employment and educational opportunities for its older citizens.
The U.S. ranks number two in the world in the domain of education and employment opportunities for its older citizens, as well as ranking relatively high in terms of an enabling environment. However, the health status ranking for older people drops to number 24 and income security comes in at number 36 worldwide.
The small country of Iceland ranks relatively high in all four domains and in the top 10 in health status and enabling environment.
The only Asian country in the top ten of the Global Index, Japan ranks particularly high in the domains of health status (5) and employment and education (10). Japan's rapidly aging population makes senior care a necessity and a priority.