by Ashley Welch
As life expectancy increases, the proportion of adults in their retirement years is expected to grow in all regions of the world. According to recent data, there are approximately 901 million people worldwide who are 60 and over. By 2050, that number will reach 2.1 billion people, or 21.5 percent of the global population.
But the experiences people have later in life vary greatly depending on where they live.
The Global AgeWatch Index recently assessed 96 countries to determine the best places for older adults to live. These countries include more than 90 percent of the world’s population aged 60 and over.
The rankings were based on how well each country scored in four categories: older adults’ health status, income security, capability (measured by employment status and education levels), and enabling environment (measured by access to public transportation, physical safety, social connections and civic freedom).
Switzerland ranked first as the best country live in if you’re 60 or older, with the report’s authors citing the country’s policies and programs that promote older adults’ health and an enabling environment. A 60-year-old living here can expect to live an average of 25 more years, with 19 of those years expected to be in good health. Switzerland also has an above regional average rate of social connectedness and civic freedom satisfaction among older people.
Yet, despite having 100 percent pension coverage for adults over the age of 65, Switzerland still has a 16.1 percent old age poverty rate – higher than the regional average.
Norway ranked consistently high in all categories, but ranked first when it came to capability. The 71.1 percent employment rate among older people is nearly 15 percentage points higher than the regional average. Norway also has the highest rate of educational attainment among older people.
Other notable highlights include the second lowest old-age poverty rate in the region at 1.8 percent, and 100 percent pension coverage for adults over the age of 65.
Sweden boasts high employment and educational attainment rates when compared to regional averages among people over the age of 60. Older adults here also report high satisfaction with safety, civic freedom and public transportation.
Germany also ranked high in the capability domain, with the second highest educational attainment rate among older adults. The country also ranks high in social connectedness and civic freedom, while life expectancy and healthy life expectancy are close to regional averages.
Canada rounds out the top five, scoring particularly high in the health domain with above average life and healthy life expectancies.
The country also ranks high in income security, with 97.7 percent pension income coverage, and a poverty rate of 6.8 percent, which is below the regional average.
Ranking sixth, the Netherlands has a low old-age poverty rate at 3 percent; 100 percent of people over age 65 receive a pension. Older adults in the country also report high satisfaction with social connectedness and civic freedoms.
Iceland boasts the lowest old-age poverty rate in its region at 1.6 percent. The country also ranks high in the health category, with a life expectancy of 25 additional years at age 60, nearly 18 of them expected to be healthy.
Iceland ranks above average in satisfaction with social connectedness, safety, public transportation and civic freedom among older adults. Yet, despite a high employment rate for older people at 81.1 percent, only 40.9 percent of the over-60 population has a secondary or higher education – more than 20 percent below the regional average.
Japan has the highest proportion of older people in the world, with a third of its population over the age of 60. The country ranks first in the health domain with a life expectancy of 26 additional years at the age of 60, with over 20 years of those years expected to be healthy.
Older adults in Japan report high satisfaction with social connectedness, safety and civic freedom.
The United States ranks ninth on the list of best countries to live in over the age of 60. The U.S. ranks particularly high in education achievement, with 96 percent of the 60-plus population having a secondary or higher education.
Across the nation, older people report high satisfaction with safety and social connectedness, and life expectancy and healthy life expectancy are near regional averages.
But the U.S. ranks lower in income security, with a poverty rate among older people at 18 percent.
The United Kingdom rounds out the list of the top 10 best countries to live in for aging adults. Older adults in the country report high satisfaction with social connectedness, civic freedom, safety and public transportation.
The U.K. also boasts 100 percent pension income coverage for adults over the age of 65. It has an old-age poverty rate of 9.3 percent – slightly above the regional average.
You can see the full list of rankings for 96 countries on Global AgeWatch Index 2015.