Special Report

The Best (and Worst) Countries to Grow Old In

The Best Countries To Grow Old In

10. New Zealand
> Total population: 4.5 million
> Pct. population aged 60+: 19.7% (41st highest)
> GDP per capita: $25,270 (33rd highest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 25 (tied-2nd highest)

New Zealand was rated as the 10th best country to grow old in by the 2014 HelpAge report. Few nations had better enabling environments for older residents, with more than 73% of the population 55 to 64 years of age employed, among the higher rates worldwide. Further, 95% of residents over 50 years old said they had someone they could count on in an emergency, and 97% were satisfied with the level of personal freedom they had in their lives. Both percentages were higher than in any other country. Elderly New Zealanders were among the healthiest in the world, with a life expectancy of 25 years at age 60, behind only Japan.

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9. Japan
> Total population: 127.1 million
> Pct. population aged 60+: 32.8% (the highest)
> GDP per capita: $30,764 (24th highest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 26 (the highest)

The elderly Japanese population was the healthiest in the world. The life expectancy of an average resident aged 60 was 26 years, and the healthy life expectancy was 20 years, both the highest in the world. As of 2014, 32.8% of Japan’s people are 60 years old or older, the most in the world. This is expected to rise to 42.7% by 2050. An aging population will put an added strain on the Japanese government’s resources. Already, Japan’s gross government debt is expected to total more than 243% of GDP by the end of 2014, the most in the world. Additionally, the country has suffered from years of deflation, which can discourage spending. The government also continues to run sizeable deficits, with much of the government’s spending going to either welfare services for an aging population or debt servicing.

8. United States
> Total population: 318.8 million
> Pct. population aged 60+: 20.1% (36th highest)
> GDP per capita: $44,439 (8th highest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 23 (29th highest)

The United States is home to nearly 65 million people aged 60 and older, less than only China and India. While the United States ranks 22nd worldwide for income security among the elderly, better than most nations, it performed better in some determinants of income security than in others. The U.S. GDP per capita of $44,439 was the eighth highest in the world. However, the poverty rate for residents ages 60 and older was nearly 15%, higher than in many developed nations. Similarly, pension coverage — the percentage of people 65 and older receiving a pension — was relatively low among developed nations, at 92.5%. As the American population continues to age, more government spending will be necessary to support older residents. According to the Congressional Budget Office, spending on Social Security and Medicare is projected to rise from 7.9% of GDP in 2014 to 10.9% of GDP by 2039.