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The Best and Worst Countries to Grow Old


People in every country look forward to a time when they can retire from work and enjoy their "golden years." But the feasibility of that plan – and the quality of life they achieve thereafter – can vary significantly from country to country.

People in every country look forward to a time when they can retire from work and enjoy their “golden years.” But the feasibility of that plan — and the quality of life they achieve thereafter – can vary significantly from country to country.

recently released its Global Age Watch Index report on the quality of life for seniors in 96 countries, representing 91% of the world’s population. The result is its rankings of the best and worst countries in which to grow old.

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The survey looked at a variety of factors, from health outcomes to economic security. For instance, in most of the wealthiest countries, virtually all seniors can count on a public pension. In low- and middle-income countries, only about one-quarter of seniors get a pension, on average.

Seniors were also asked about factors such as whether they feel safe going out at night in their neighborhood, and whether they are satisfied with their access to public transportation.

Generally speaking, European countries scored the best. African countries commonly fell near the bottom of the list. The United States ranked 8

, just ahead of Japan, and just behind Iceland.


What follows is the 5 best, and 5 worst countries in which to grow old, according to Global Age Watch.


5th BEST: Germany

Income Security Rank: 15

Health Status Rank: 11

Everyone over the age of 65 receives a pension in Germany, and 60-year-olds can be expected to live another 24 years, according to the study. Germany ranked high in terms of economic opportunity for seniors, in part due to a growing number of older Germans taking seeking and finding employment. The poverty rate among retirement-age adults was 9.7%, better than the regional average.


Income Security Rank:


Health Status Rank:

America’s neighbors to the north outpace the US in a number of categories. Canadians who live to age 60 can expect to live to another 25 years (compared to 23 in the US). Canadians also have a 97% pension coverage rate, higher than the 92% rate in the US. Canada has an old-age poverty rate of 7.2%, less than half that of America’s.



Income Security Rank:


Health Status Rank:

Switzerland is not in the top tier when it comes to income security. While everyone has a pension there, 17.6% of elderly Swiss live in poverty. However, the country scores well for health, with an average life expectancy at age 60 of 25 years. The country also is in the top 5 in areas such as employment opportunities for seniors.

2nd BEST: Sweden


Income Security Rank:


Health Status Rank:

Swedes can expect to live to about 24 years past the age of 60, and as they do, they’ll enjoy universal pension coverage, plenty of public transportation, civic opportunities, and other benefits. Only 5% of elderly Swedes list in poverty, 4% below the regional average. Its lowest scores are in the health category, as Sweden’s life expectancy is slightly below the regional average.


Income Security Rank: 1

Health Status Rank: 16

Another Scandinavian country tops the list. Like Sweden, Norway’s life expectancy for 60-year-olds (24 more years) is slightly lower than the regional average. However, Norwegian seniors can expect to find work if they want it, receive a pension once they stop working, and live in a safe environment. They can also expect to avoid poverty. Norway’s old-age poverty rate is just 1.8%.



Income Security Rank: 94

Health Status Rank: 69

Seniors in Tanzania can expect to live another 18 years after age 60, but those years will come with certain challenges. Only 3% of Tanzanian seniors have a pension, and only 51% of seniors reported feeling safe walking in their communities at night. The country’s old-age poverty rate is 16.7%.

4th WORST: Malawi


Income Security Rank: 96

Health Status Rank: 95

Seniors in Malawi can expect to live another 16 years past the age of 60, but on average only 11.5% of those years are spent in good health. Four percent of seniors have a pension and 17.5% of seniors fall below the country’s poverty line. Only 36% of people over the age of 50 reported feeling safe in their community at night.

3rd WORST: West Bank & Gaza


Income Security Rank: 82

Health Status Rank: 73

Seniors who grow old in the West Bank and Gaza can expect to live 18 years past the age of 60. However, educational attainment is low for residents, and job opportunities are relatively few. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of residents said they feel safe walking in their neighborhoods at night, but only 41% said they were satisfied with the level of freedom of choice in their lives.

2nd WORST: Mozambique



Health Status Rank: 94

Mozambique is one of 3 African countries in the bottom 5. Sixty-year-olds can expect to live another 17 years, and 17% of seniors have a pension. The old age poverty rate in the country is 19.1% and the GDP per capita is just $842 US dollars.


Income Security Rank: 83

Health Status: 96

War-torn Afghanistan has surprisingly good numbers in some categories. For instance, the old age poverty rate is just 7.2%. However, economic opportunity for seniors is low in the country, and its health scores also rank at the bottom of the list. An average 60-year-old Afghan senior can expect to live another 16 years, but only 9.2 of those years will be in good health. Only half of seniors surveyed said they have friends or relative to contact if they have troubles.

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