The Best (and Worst) Countries to Grow Old

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10. Japan
> Total population: 127.2 million
> Pct. population 60+: 31.6% (the highest)
> GDP per capita: $30,965 (23rd highest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 26 years (the most)

More than 31% of the population in Japan was is at least 60 years old, a higher proportion than any other country. One reason for this is that 60 year olds can expect to live another 26 years, the highest in the world. The country’s large number of older residents have enabled some Japanese citizens to commit fraud by not reporting deceased relatives in order to keep receiving their pension payments. The Japanese government has taken steps to deal with the long-term costs of the increasingly large proportion of elderly residents. This includes implementing disability prevention services and creating programs encouraging independence.

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9. Iceland
> Total population:
300,000
> Pct. population 60+: 17.5% (49th highest)
> GDP per capita: $32,779 (20th highest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 24 years (tied-12th most)

Just 17.5% of Iceland’s population is at least 60 years old, a smaller portion than any of the other nations where it is best to grow old. The relative welfare of the older population in Iceland is extremely high. The nation’s people also remain socially connected as they age, with 96% of those over 50 indicating they had someone they could count on in an emergency, one of the highest percentages in the world.

8. United States of America
> Total population: 317.5 million
> Pct. population 60+: 19.1% (38th highest)
> GDP per capita: $42,079 (9th highest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 23 years (tied-27th most)

The U.S. has more than 60 million residents aged 60 or higher. The quality of life for this large part of the population is very high. For instance, nearly 96% of Americans 60 and over had at least a secondary level education, among the highest rates in the world. However, the U.S. can still improve considerably in other areas affecting the elderly. A 60 year old American can expect to live another 23 years. This is a high number compared to most of the world, but actually the lowest among the best countries to grow old. Also, 15% of those aged 50 and over stated they lacked freedom of choice in their lives, worse than many developed countries.

7. New Zealand
> Total population: 4.5 million
> Pct. population 60+: 18.9% (40th highest)
> GDP per capita: $24,400 (34th highest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 25 years (tied-2nd most)

Despite its low GDP per capita for a developed nation, New Zealand had one of the healthiest elderly populations in the world. A 60-year-old in New Zealand can expect to live 25 additional years, and 18 of those years in good health. Older residents’ educations and ability to find jobs in New Zealand were also among the best globally. Additionally, New Zealand is among the few countries with national age-specific laws that protect older people from abuse. Despite a number of good measures, the country’s ageing population’s income security was worse than 40 other countries.

6. Switzerland
> Total population:
8.0 million
> Pct. population 60+: 23.4% (16th highest)
> GDP per capita: $39,072 (10th highest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 25 years (tied-2nd most)

No country ranked better than Switzerland for the health of its older population. The life expectancy for Swiss residents reaching 60 years of age was tied for second-highest in the world at 25 years. Switzerland’s older residents also rated the environment in which they live quite well. Among residents over the age of 50, 91% stated they had an emergency contact. A similar proportion stated they had freedom of choice in their lives. Both these rates, as well as the proportion of respondents who stated they were satisfied with their access to transportation, were among the highest in the world.