Switzerland ranked top place in world for older people

by Ray Clancy on September 11, 2015

Many people nearing retirement dream of moving abroad, but if they have a choice it is not always easy to know which is the best country for retirees.

But help is at hand from an annual index which shows that Switzerland is the best country in the world for older people.

switzerlandThe Global Age Watch Index 2015 rates 96 countries around the world and looks at the well being of older people in four key areas: income security, health, personal capability and an enabling ensvironment.

In second place is Norway, followed by Sweden, Germany, Canada, Netherlands, Iceland, Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom making up the top 10.

Other countries popular with expats for retirement are lower down the rankings, with New Zealand at 12, France ranked 16, Australia 17, Spain at 25 and South Africa at 78.

Apart from Japan, all the top 10 countries are in Western Europe and North America. Afghanistan is ranked last and all regions are represented in the lowest quarter, with countries in Africa making up half of those with low income security rankings and poor health results.However, Greece at 79, Venezuela at 76 and Turkey at 75 are in a similar position to sub-Saharan African and Asian countries.

The index report suggests that against a backdrop of global ageing, there is a danger that well being in older age is going backwards, not forwards.

It points out that even in Europe, austerity measures are hitting older people.

The 2008 financial crisis led to cuts in pensions, health and home care, as well as high unemployment rates among the 50 to 65 age group.

In 2009, for example, Poland reduced the number of people eligible for early retirement from 1.53 million to 860,000, but pension levels are set to decline from 51% of average wages to 26%.

In 2012 Portugal reduced the subsidy to senior citizens for public transport and within six months 41,000 older people in the greater Lisbon area had stopped buying the monthly travel pass.

In 2015 Ireland protected the state pension. However, rising costs coupled with reductions in secondary income supports such as telephone and fuel allowances and the introduction of a number of ‘stealth’ charges for property, tax and water, have hit older people hard. Cuts to health budgets have disproportionately affected older people.

In the USA the old age poverty rate, which varies significantly between racial and ethnic groups, has risen substantially, probably reflecting the persistently high unemployment rates following the recession.

While annual unemployment rates among workers aged 55 to 64 decreased to 4.3% in 2014, long term unemployment remains a concern among older job seekers.

Data shows that the gap in life expectancy at age 60 between countries at the top and bottom of the Index has widened from 5.7 years in 1990 to 7.3 years in 2012.

Countries that do well in the Index are thinking about ageing. They have data on older men and women and consult them on targeted approaches to meet their needs and build on their experience and skills.

These countries score highly in all four areas, have social pensions, accessible and appropriate healthcare, promote and support flexible working, as well as life long learning for older people and have created a secure and supportive environment for people of all ages.

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