UK ranks 11th in Global Age Watch Index
Published on 01 October 2014 11:30 AM
The Index, which ranks 96 countries around the world, measures wellbeing in 4 key areas: income security; health; education and employment opportunities; and social connectedness.
Globally, Norway tops the Index this year, closely followed by Sweden. The UK is ranked 11th and the worst place for an older person is Afghanistan (96). Just above it come Mozambique (95), West Bank and Gaza (94) and Malawi (93).
The UK performed well in the social environment category (third overall) but ranked only 23rd for education and employment, behind Bolivia, Estonia and the Philippines. It performs badly in the health category at 27th behind the US (25th), Japan (1st) and Costa Rica, Chile, Greece and Colombia.
Number of people over 60 will 'more than double'
According to the UN, by 2050 the number of people over 60 will have more than doubled to well over 2 billion; meaning older people would comprise 21% of the world's total population.
This year the Global AgeWatch Index, launched by Age International's partner, HelpAge on the International Day of Older Persons, highlights the importance of social, or non-contributory, pensions for older people and society as a whole. Despite expansion of social pensions, half of the world's population goes without one.
‘Pensions have the potential to lift millions of older people out of poverty. But they also benefit whole households and contribute to economic growth.
‘As the number of older people dramatically rises, it is vital that governments develop and refine policies that help older people to remain active, appreciated and capable of achieving their potential for their own sakes and their societies,' says Chris Roles, Director of Age International.
Government must make the UK more age friendly
The aim of the Index is to provide important information to help governments make the best decisions to meet the challenges facing their growing older populations.
Jane Vass, Head of Public Policy at Age UK, said:
‘The UK ranks at 11 overall in the index and is relatively well placed on all domains when we compare the country against countries with a similar GDP apart from its health status where it is ranked at 27.
‘There is clearly room for improvement and the UK should aspire to do better. Life expectancy in the UK is amongst the highest in the world; however there are still large regional variations.
UK has a vastly underfunded social care system
‘In the UK we know there are key things that government must do to make the country more age friendly. The UK has a vastly underfunded social care system which is having a devastating impact on frail older people and their families.
‘We need to look beyond someone's age and strive for a society where people of all ages are valued equally and everyone is supported to achieve the best health and wellbeing outcomes they can. Loneliness is also a huge issue with nearly half of people aged 65 and over (49%) living alone and this is expected to increase because of changing demographic and family patterns.
‘Only when these issues have been addressed can the country be really proud about how it treats its older population and it can be a great place to grow old.'