The Best (and Worst) Countries to Grow Old

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5. Pakistan
> Total population:
186.3 million
> Pct. population aged 60+: 6.6%
> GNI per capita: $4,557
> Life expectancy at 60: 17

Pakistanis 60 and older are expected to live just 17 more years, one of the shorter old-age life expectancies in the world. While shorter lives are not necessarily less happy lives, only 46% of Pakistani respondents 50 and older said they were satisfied with the freedom in their lives, and just 60% were confident that they had friends or relatives to help them when in need, both some of the lowest percentages of any country. Also, only 2.3% of Pakistan’s elderly population can expect regular pay after retirement, the lowest pension coverage in the world. Like many of the worst countries for the elderly, Pakistan is mired in regional conflicts. Not only does this make life more challenging for country residents, especially older individuals, but it makes it very difficult for local governments and outside organizations to even collect data on the population.

4. West Bank and Gaza
> Total population:
N/A
> Pct. population aged 60+: 4.5%
> GNI per capita: $5,211
> Life expectancy at 60: 18

The West Bank and Gaza is one of the most conflict-torn regions in the world, and that lack of stability has, according to HelpAge International, had a disproportionately large effect on the quality of life for the elderly. Only 41% of West Bank and Gaza respondents 50 and older say they are satisfied with the freedom in their lives — the third lowest share of any country. Only 8% of residents 65 and older have pensions, one of the lowest coverage rates in the world. In countries without income security after retirement, access to work-related support networks through elderly employment is important. In West Bank and Gaza, however, only 29.2% of residents aged 55 to 64 were employed, one of the lowest elderly employment rate in the world.

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3. Mozambique
> Total population:
26.5 million
> Pct. population aged 60+: 5.1%
> GNI per capita: $1,019
> Life expectancy at 60: 16

Six of the 10 worst countries for elderly people are in Africa — and Mozambique is one of them. Nearly 20% of Mozambique’s 1.4 million residents aged 60 and over live in poverty. A low pension coverage rate may partially explain the high poverty level among the country’s elderly population. Only 17.3% of the nation’s elderly residents received any income from a pension, a smaller share than in all but a handful of other countries. Those in the country who live to age 60 are expected to live an average of 16 additional years, the shortest old-age life expectancy among nations reviewed. While slightly more than 5% of the East African nation’s population is 60 and older, the share is projected to grow to 6.2% by 2050.

2. Malawi
> Total population:
17.6 million
> Pct. population aged 60+: 4.9%
> GNI per capita: $717
> Life expectancy at 60: 16

With a GNI per capita of just $717, Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. By contrast, The United States’ GNI per capita is almost 72 times that of Malawi’s. Just 4.1% of Malawians 65 and older received income after retirement, one of the lowest pension coverage rates worldwide. One positive note on the quality of life for the elderly in Malawi is the nation’s high employment rate of the elderly. In Malawi, 96.4% of residents aged 55 to 64 were employed, the second highest elderly employment rate of any country. Employment for senior citizens has been shown to result in a higher quality of life for the elderly, who have access to employment-based support networks and maintain a sense of purpose. After turning 60, Malawians can expect to live just 16 more years, one of the shortest old-age life expectancies worldwide.

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1. Afghanistan
> Total population:
31.3 million
> Pct. population aged 60+: 4.0%
> GNI per capita: $1,703
> Life expectancy at 60: 16

All of the worst countries to grow old in are countries with relatively small concentrations of old people. Afghanistan has one of the smallest share of residents aged at least 60 and is the worst country in which to grow old. After turning 60, Afghans can expect to live just 16 more years, seven years fewer than the average American turning 60. A shorter life is not necessarily a less healthy life, but in Afghanistan it is. Of those 16 years, only 9.2 are expected to be lived in good health — one of the shortest healthy life expectancy in the world. A supportive environment is important for elderly well-being. Just half of Afghan respondents 50 and older said they felt that they had friends or relatives who could help them when in need.

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