HelpAge International and the Global AgeWatch Index

index“We work with our partners to ensure that people everywhere understand how much older people contribute to society and that they must enjoy their right to healthcare, social services and economic and physical security.”
~ HelpAge International

HelpAge International is a London-based charity that envisions ‘a world in which all older people can lead dignified, active, healthy and secure lives.’ Originally founded in 1983 as a combination of organizations from Canada, Kenya, India, Columbia and the UK, HelpAge International has grown to 100 affiliates in 65 countries.

HelpAge International established a Global AgeWatch Index in 2013. The index is based on four areas that affect an older adult’s well-being: income, health, capability and enabling environment.

This year’s Global AgeWatch Index rated Canada 4th (out of 96 countries) for the social and economic well being of its older adults. The index also rated Canadian older adults as ‘7th in income security, 4th in health status, 8th in capabilities (employment and education), and 9th in enabling environment’.

The 2014 Global AgeWatch Index top ten countries are:

  1. Norway
  2. Sweden
  3. Switzerland
  4. Canada
  5. Germany
  6. Netherlands
  7. Iceland
  8. United States
  9. Japan
  10. New Zealand

What are some of the factors that positively impact the quality of life for older adults in Norway?

To start with, Norway rated 1st for income security for older adults. Norway also had a 15 percentage points higher (70.9%) employment rate among older adults coupled with ‘the highest rate of educational attainment among older people (99.4%).’

One of the main reasons for Norway’s economic security is the wealth procured from heavily taxing Norway’s oil and gas industries. According to an article in the London Telegraph Norway created the Government Pension Fund Global commonly known as the Oil Fund – which has since grown to become one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds. Much of the country’s oil revenues are channeled into the fund, which is invested globally to pay for the growing financial demands of an ageing population.’

Norway also ‘comes in at number 4 in the enabling environment domain, with high rates of perception of safety (86%) and civic freedom (96%) among older people.’

In 1970, the National Council for Senior Citizens was created to give Norway’s older adults a voice in local politics and issues concerning the elderly.

Norway’s success appears to be a combination of economic wealth and progressive social policies. As the Global AgeWatch Index report states ‘economic growth alone will not improve older people’s wellbeing, … specific policies must be put in place to address the context-specific challenges of demographic changes’.

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