Global AgeWatch Index 2013

Ageing gives us cause for celebration: longer lives throughout the world are a triumph of development. The 21st century is seeing an unprecedented global demographic transition, with population ageing at its heart. By 2050 – less than 40 years away – older people (defined as aged 60 or over) will make up more than one-fifth of the global population.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and HelpAge International made clear in their 2012 report, Ageing in the Twenty-First Century: A Celebration and A Challenge, that while important progress had been made by many countries in adopting new policies and laws on ageing, more needs to be done to fulfil the potential of older people.

Policy makers broadly agree that we can and should do better in measuring social and economic progress as a means to promote improvements. The result has been the emergence of a number of different indexes providing evidence that is useful for policy makers. However, none of the existing indexes provides a global picture of how well countries are doing to support the wellbeing of their ageing populations. A new index that measures the wellbeing of older people can focus attention on successes and assist that progress, as well as identify areas that need to be addressed.

The Global AgeWatch Index has been developed to provide this framework. It has brought together a unique set of internationally comparable data based on older people’s income status, health status, education and employment, and enabling environment. These domains have been selected because they were identified by older people and policy makers alike as key enablers of older people’s wellbeing.

Constructing The Global AgeWatch Index

The aim of the Index is both to capture the multidimensional nature of the quality of life and wellbeing of older people, and to provide a means by which to measure performance and promote improvements.

The Global AgeWatch Index 2013 comprises 13 different indicators for the four key domains of Income security, Health status, Education and employment, and Enabling environment where there is internationally comparable data.

Domain 1: Income security: Income security describes access to a sufficient amount of income, and the capacity to use it independently, in order to meet basic needs in older age.

Domain 2: Health status: Advancing age is linked to physical frailty and is also closely associated with risk of the onset of ill-health and disability.

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