Special Report

The Best (and Worst) Countries to Grow Old In

The Worst Countries To Grow Old In

10. Iraq
> Total population: 35.9 million
> Pct. population aged 60+: 5.1% (43rd lowest)
> GDP per capita: $3,462 (57th lowest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 18 (tied-63rd lowest)

This year, Iraq is the 10th worst country to grow old. Only a few countries were worse at enabling older Iraqis to live free, safe, and satisfying lives. For example, less than a third of country residents over 50 were satisfied with the freedom of choice in their lives, the worst rate among countries reviewed. And just half felt safe walking alone at night. Like many countries where growing old is relatively difficult, Iraq provides no social pension. In addition to relatively low life expectancies for older residents, decades of war have likely hindered both the government and communities from supporting older Iraqis. Between Iraq’s war with Iran in the 1980s, two military campaigns conducted by the United States, and the recent rise of extremist groups, the nation’s economy and infrastructure have struggled to stabilize.

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9. Zambia
> Total population: 15.0 million
> Pct. population aged 60+: 3.8% (9th lowest)
> GDP per capita: $1,419 (25th lowest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 17 (tied-36th lowest)

As might be expected in the worst countries to grow old, there are relatively few elderly residents in Zambia. Less than 4% of the country’s population was over 60 years old as of 2014, among the lowest shares. Elderly Zambians struggled with high poverty rates, poor health, and lack of personal security. Nearly 23% of residents over 60 lived in poverty, one of the worst rates. Residents over 60 years old could expect only 12.2 years of relatively good health, among the lower healthy life expectancies worldwide. Just over a third of Zambian residents over 50 felt safe walking home at night, also among the lowest proportions.

8. Uganda
> Total population: 38.0 million
> Pct. population aged 60+: 3.7% (4th lowest)
> GDP per capita: $1,165 (19th lowest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 16 (tied-11th lowest)

Like several of the worst countries to grow old, Uganda had an exceptionally high employment rate among older Ugandans. Nearly 89% of Ugandans between 55 and 64 were employed, more than in all but a handful of other countries. While jobs seem to be readily available, many elderly Uganda residents were poorly educated and under considerable financial strain. Less than 7% of people over 60 had at least a secondary education, one of the lower rates. And nearly 21% of residents at least 60 years old lived in poverty, among the world’s higher rates. Uganda’s GDP per capita of less than $1,200 was one of the lowest among all countries reviewed.

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