Best Places for Older People to Live: Which Country Ranks #1?

Switzerland Best Place for Older People to Live
Switzerland Best Place for Older People to Live

A new report from HelpAge International has named Switzerland the best place in the world for older people to live, followed by Norway and Sweden.

The Global AgeWatch Index evaluated the social and economic well-being of older adults in 96 countries. The Index includes about 901 million people, which reflects 91% of the world's population aged ≥60 years. Four main areas of life were assessed: income, health, education and employment, and the enabling environment.

Some of the key findings include:

  • Switzerland (1) tops the Index, alongside Norway (2), Sweden (3), Germany (4) and Canada (5). The UK (10) is also among the top 10 this year, along with USA (9).
  • Apart from Japan (8) all the top 10 countries are advanced countries in Western Europe and North America. Afghanistan (96) is ranked last.
  • Countries investing in improving the lives of older people are at the top of the Index. They are implementing policies which promote social pensions, universal healthcare and enabling physical and social environments for older people.
  • All the world's regions are represented in the lowest quarter, showing that improvements in lives of older people are required in countries across the world.
  • African countries make up half of those with low income security rankings and poor health results - requiring more research and policy interventions in this region than any other.
  • Greece (79), Venezuela (76) and Turkey (75) are in a similar position to sub-Saharan African and Asian countries.

Additional findings from the Global AgeWatch Index indicate that the gap in life expectancy at age 60 between countries at the top and bottom of the list has grown from 5.7 years in 1990 to 7.3 years in 2012. Adults aged 60 in Japan have the highest life expectancy with an additional 26 years as compared to adults aged 60 in Afghanistan with an additional 16 years on average. Also, 46.8% of women aged 55–64 years were reported to be economically active vs. 73.5% of men. Women were at an increased risk of poverty in old age with less general earnings than men and less opportunities to save for the future.

The Republic of South Korea is reported to have the highest poverty rate among older adults at 48.5%, with Venezuela at 38%, Australia at 33.4% , and Bolivia at 30.3%, and Honduras at 28.9% though significant variations in Gross National Income per capita. The lowest old age poverty rates are reported in Iceland at 1.6%, with Czech Republic at 1.7%, Lao People's Democratic Republic at 4.5%, India at 5.1%, Mauritius at 6.4%, and South Africa at 12.17%.

Countries that scored highly on all four key areas with governments planning for population aging ranked at the top of the Index, added Professor Asghar Zaidi from the University of Southampton, who led the development of the Index. These countries are conducting research, resourcing, and implementing policies to support well-being (eg, social pensions, accessible health care, flexible working, life-long learning, enabling environment for all ages).

For more information visit HelpAge.org.

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