The Best (and Worst) Countries to Grow Old

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5. Canada
> Total population: 34.8 million
> Pct. population 60+: 20.8% (30th highest)
> GDP per capita: $35,223 (14th highest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 25 years (tied-2nd most)

Among Canada’s population aged 60, life expectancy is an additional 25 years, tied for second highest in the world. Older residents living in the country also generally consider their environment to be enabling. Only one country, Ireland, had a higher percentage of people aged 50 and older who stated they had someone who they could reach out to in an emergency. The vast majority of older Canadians also noted they had freedom to make choices in their lives. Canada currently has two entitlement programs, the Old Age Security program and the Canadian Pension Plan, designed to help residents in a manner similar to America’s Social Security. Recently, Canada’s government determined it would gradually shift the age at which Canadians become eligible for Old Age Security, from 65 to 67, beginning in 2023.

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4. Netherlands
> Total population:
16.7 million
> Pct. population 60+: 22.8% (22nd highest)
> GDP per capita: $36,925 (11th highest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 24 years (tied-12th most)

Over 90% of the Dutch population aged 50 and over said they have relatives or friends they can rely on when in trouble. According to the Global AgeWatch, this is in part due to the country’s good road and highway infrastructure. More elderly residents in the Netherlands were satisfied with the country’s roads and highways than any country in the world. According to The Economist, health care costs have been rising in the country. Nevertheless, most older residents can still afford care. As of last year, the country had the fourth-highest GDP per capita among the countries measured by Global AgeWatch.

3. Germany
> Total population:
82.8 million
> Pct. population 60+: 26.7% (3rd highest)
> GDP per capita: $33,565 (17th highest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 24 years (tied-12th most)

More than one quarter of the German population is at least 60 years old, the third highest portion after Japan and Italy. Anticipating low birth rates and longer life expectancy, Germany overhauled its pension scheme more than 10 years ago. The new plan includes more private contributions from residents. According to the Index, pensions have been reduced since then, and the need for more resources for the older population will only increase. Older Germans are among the healthiest in the world. They also are among the least likely to be poor. In Germany, just 10.5% of people at least 60 were living in poverty, compared to 14.6% in the U.S.

2. Norway
> Total population:
5.0 million
> Pct. population 60+: 21.7% (26th highest)
> GDP per capita: $46,906 (4th highest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 24 years (tied-12th most)

Of the best countries for older people, Norway is easily the wealthiest, and it has been for several years. The high GDP per capita and overall prosperity relies heavily on the country’s large oil reserves in the North Sea. Norway introduced its universal rights-based pension long before its economy became so prosperous. Norwegians qualify for pension coverage before the age of 65, and nearly every older person receives a pension check. Supplementing income from the government with employment is also quite common. Norway also has the most educated and most employed older population among the nations measured.

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1. Sweden
> Total population:
9.5 million
> Pct. population 60+: 25.4% (5th highest)
> GDP per capita: $34,125 (16th highest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 24 years (tied-12th most)

Based on current estimates, one in 10 Swedes will live to 100 years old. The anticipated surge of ageing citizens in the country will likely strain the world’s first universal social pension scheme, which was introduced in 1913. At the moment, however, Sweden is a comfortable place for its 2.4 million older people. Unlike the U.S. system, which is means-tested, the Swedish pension scheme is universal — all citizens of eligible age are guaranteed about $1,145 per month. The vast majority of older people in Sweden describe their lives as free and independent, tied with Norway for the second-highest percentage of the older population to do so.