Special Report

The Best (and Worst) Countries to Grow Old In

4. Canada
> Total population: 35.5 million
> Pct. population aged 60+: 21.7% (29th highest)
> GDP per capita: $35,739 (15th highest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 25 (tied 2nd highest)

Few countries provided better health care for the elderly than Canada. A 60 year old Canadian could expect to live 25 years, 18.3 of which will be in good health, both among the highest figures in the world. Residents over 50 were also just as likely as younger adults to feel their life was meaningful — an important indicator of mental well-being and a measure in which most countries performed far worse than Canada. Each province and territory in the country provided its residents with insurance for medically necessary care, although many Canadians also had private supplementary coverage.

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3. Switzerland
> Total population: 8.1 million
> Pct. population aged 60+: 23.6% (21st highest)
> GDP per capita: $39,301 (10th highest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 25 (tied 2nd highest)

No country generated a better enabling environment for older residents than Switzerland. The vast majority of Swiss residents over 50 surveyed said they had someone to count on in an emergency, had personal freedom in their lives, and were satisfied with public transit where they lived. Elderly residents in Switzerland were also among the healthiest in the world. A 60 year old Swiss resident could expect to live 19 more years in good health, more than almost any other nation. With a GDP per capita of $39,301, Switzerland is one of the world’s wealthier countries. All residents 65 and older also received a pension. Despite these facts, 17.6% of Swiss people 60 and older lived in poverty, a relatively high rate.

2. Sweden
> Total population: 9.7 million
> Pct. population aged 60+: 25.6% (7th highest)
> GDP per capita: $34,862 (17th highest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 24 (tied-13th highest)

More than one quarter of Swedes are at least 60 years old, one of the highest proportions in the world. And while this figure is expected rise to 28.5% by 2050, this represents a far-slower growth in the elderly population than in many countries. Older Swedes are more likely than their counterparts in most countries to have income security, as 100% of the population 65 and older received a pension, and just 5% of residents 60 and older lived below the poverty line, one of the lowest rates in the world. Further, older Swedes were among the most likely people in the world to be capable of working at an advanced age. They were also among the most likely to state that they lived in an enabling environment.

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1. Norway
> Total population: 5.1 million
> Pct. population aged 60+: 21.8% (27th highest)
> GDP per capita: $46,733 (5th highest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 24 (tied-13th highest)

Norway is the best country in the world to grow old in, according to HelpAge. Older Norwegians had better income security than their counterparts anywhere else in the world, with a universal pension and GDP per capita of $46,733, fifth highest among countries reviewed. Just 1.8% of people over 60 lived below the poverty line, one of the lowest rates worldwide. Additionally, over 99% of residents 60 and over had completed at least a secondary education, the highest rate in the world. Further, nearly 96% of residents over 50 said they were happy with the level of personal freedom in their lives, the second highest percentage in the world.

Click here to see the worst countries to grow old in