Study: World’s best place to be old is Switzerland

Switzerland beat out Norway and Sweden for the first place spot this year in an annual ranking of the best countries in the world to be old.

Study: World's best place to be old is Switzerland
Two elderly Swiss women go for a walk in Grut. Photo: Tambako The Jaguar / Flickr Creative Commons.

The Global AgeWatch Index on Wednesday showed that Switzerland was the top country worldwide for older people because of its range of programmes “promoting capability, health and the enabling environment of old people”, the report stated.

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NGO HelpAge International conducted the study by ranking 96 countries worldwide on a variety of factors regarding the social and economic wellbeing of older people.

Switzerland had come in third place worldwide last year behind Norway and Sweden, but shot up to first place this year.

The index showed that the Swiss scored very high in the category related to how well older people are able to get around in society.

Ninety-one percent of people over 50 in Switzerland have relatives or friends they can count on if they're in trouble and 93 percent said they felt satisfied with the freedom of choice in their lives. 

Another 83 percent of those over 50 said they were happy with local public transportation and 70 percent said they felt safe enough to walk alone at night where they lived.

Switzerland also scored high in the area of health. Swiss people who have reached the age of 60 can expect to live on average another 25 years, with 19 of those years being in good health.

And 96.5 percent expressed having relatively positive psychological and mental wellbeing.

The country scored the lowest in the category of income security, though it did show improvement from the year before.

The low rating was due to a high poverty rate at 16 percent of people aged 60 or older.

And though the report ranked Switzerland well for its high number of people between 55 and 64 who had jobs — 71.7 percent — it also noted that it is hard for older people to get back into the labour market if they lose their jobs.

“Age discrimination is still legal in Switzerland, unlike almost all other OECD countries and it is quite common in recruitment advertising,” the report stated.

The countries that were rated the worst in the index were Afghanistan (96), Malawi (95) and Mozambique (94).

The report also noted that gap between countries that provide the most for older people and those that provide the least may be widening.

“Against a back drop of global ageing there is a danger that wellbeing in older age is going backwards not forwards,” the report states.

“Data shows that the gap in life expectancy at age 60 between countries at the top and bottom of the Index has widened from 5.7 years in 1990 to 7.3 years in 2012.

“This inequality will grow without more focus on this age group and better targeted policies. Austerity measures are already affecting older people in Europe.”

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