Special Report

The Best (and Worst) Countries to Grow Old In

4. Malawi
> Total population: 17.6 million
> Pct. population aged 60+: 4.9% (35th lowest)
> GDP per capita: $667 (6th lowest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 16 (tied-11th lowest)

Malawi is exceptionally poor, with an economic output of just $667 per capita. The U.S., by contrast had a GDP of nearly $45,000 per capita. Nearly all of Malawi’s 55-64 year old population worked, with an employment rate of 96.6%, by far the highest among countries reviewed. Yet, like in several other nations in the region, elderly residents are poorly educated. Just 4.5% of people over 60 had completed at least a secondary education, much less than in most countries. While the high employment rate may help some older residents feel independent, less than half of people over 50 said they had someone they could count on when in trouble, one of the worst measures of social connectivity. Nearly 18% of Malawi residents over 60 also lived in poverty, one of the higher rates worldwide.

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3. West Bank and Gaza
> Total population: N/A
> Pct. population aged 60+: 4.6% (28th lowest)
> GDP per capita: $2,465 (48th lowest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 18 (tied-63rd lowest)

The West Bank and Gaza, separated by miles of Israeli territory, are nearly the worst regions in which to grow old. Palestinians and Israelis have been in a nearly continuous conflict, and tensions may worsen as Hamas recently renewed its political presence in the West Bank. While nearly three-quarters of people over 50 felt safe walking home and approved of the public transport system — both among the higher rates reviewed — just 30% of residents aged 55 to 64 had a job, nearly the lowest rate. Poor employment and political turmoil may have also contributed to only 41% of Palestinians over 50 feeling freedom in their lives, one of the lower rates among countries reviewed.

2. Mozambique 
> Total population: 26.5 million
> Pct. population aged 60+: 5.1% (40th lowest)
> GDP per capita: $842 (8th lowest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 16 (tied-11th lowest)

Located on the Indian Ocean in southeastern Africa, Mozambique has struggled with a long history of colonialism and civil war. While the country has stabilized considerably since its independence in 1992, Mozambique is still quite poor. The nation’s GDP per capita was just $842 last year, among the lowest economic outputs worldwide. The country’s weak economy is likely having some effect on the well-being of elderly residents, as nearly 20% of people over 60 lived in poverty, considerably higher than in most other countries. Less than a third of Mozambique residents over 50-years old felt safe walking home at night, nearly the worst rate.

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1. Afghanistan
> Total population: 31.3 million
> Pct. population aged 60+: 3.9% (11th lowest)
> GDP per capita: $1,225 (8th lowest)
> Life expectancy at 60: 16 (tied-11th lowest)

Afghanistan is the worst country for the elderly. At 60 years old, Afghan residents could expect only 9.2 years of good health — one of the only nations in the world where healthy life expectancy at 60 was less than a decade. While older Afghans were more likely to work than older residents in other countries, people over 60 were very poorly educated. Just 5.2% had completed at least a secondary education, among the lowest rates worldwide. While the U.S. and its allies have considerably reduced its military presence in the country, Afghanistan has been the site of conflict for decades. The withdrawal of the U.S. from the country could also further imperil the nation’s political and economic stability.

Click here to see the best countries to grow old in

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