The Best Place in the World In Which To Grow Old

Marlyn Glen

12 June 2014

Sweden is the present recipient of the coveted accolade of being the best place in the world in which to grow old.

This Global Age Watch acclamation was conferred for the quality of well-being of their elderly people.

It emanates from five factors  - income, health, employment and education, and "enabling environment"- the public attitudes, political policies and the everyday practices that support the maintenance of that well-being. 

Sweden regularly reaches the top ranks for similar global comparisons .

Last month it was placed second to Finland in the World's Mother Index ("the best place to be a mother") and last year was the fifth happiest country in the world according to the UN  World Happiness Report

It found that “happiness” developed from features such as a healthy life expectancy, having someone to turn to in times of need, generosity, and having the opportunity and the circumstances to make important choices. 

And it found that happy people tended not only earned more, and were better citizens -they also tended to live longer.

click on the image above to visit the website

Looking at income WHICH? Conversation in a report last year acknowledged the difficulty of making like-for-like comparisons of  individual countries' pension schemes as they have different criteria for qualification.

However, it did point out that the maximum, not the average, of an earnings-related) state pension in Sweden was just over £25,000 a year, well over 3 times the UK pension.

( It found that average annual earnings in Sweden were over £37,000 compared with £31,000 in the UK.)

Increased longevity requires greater provision of resources for the elderly, a pensions system that reflects the longevity and the overall drop in the working age population to support the  pension system.

Traditionally , Scandinavian countries have chosen progressive high taxation to fund its type of society for the elderly.

Public expenditure there is seen as an investment for higher standards of living , higher standards of care for older people, good for the economy, good for well-being, and as protection against the consequences of inequality.

The welfare of older people is one of growing political importance.

Last year, to mark the International Day of Older Persons (1st. October), the UN addressed the issue, declaring :


“By 2050, the number of older persons will be twice the number of children in developed countries, and the number of older persons in developing countries is expected to double.

“This trend will have profound effects on countries and individuals.

“There is broad recognition that population ageing presents both a significant opportunity and a challenge.

“The opportunity is to benefit from the many contributions older persons make to society.

“The challenge is to act on this understanding now through the adoption of policies that promote social inclusion and intergenerational solidarity.


The creation of the Global Watch index was for the purpose of illustrating that “the continual exclusion of ageing from national and global agendas is one of the biggest obstacles to meeting the needs of the world's ageing population, “

“The world is rapidly ageing, “ says Silvia Stefanoni of HelpAge International. “ People over 60 years of age already exceed children under 5, and by 2050 they will outnumber children under 15.

“However, the continual exclusion of ageing from national and global agendas is one of the biggest obstacles to meeting the needs of the world’s ageing population.

“By giving us a better understanding of the quality of life of women and men as they age, this new Index can help us focus our attention on where things are going well and where we have to make improvements.”

The creation of a Global Age Watch is an acknowledgement that the welfare of older people is one of growing political importance and is set to become a major political issue in the decades to come.


Back to previous page