New Zealand 12th best country for older person wellbeing

New Zealand 12th best country for older person wellbeing

October 1, 2015


New Zealand has dropped two places in the Global AgeWatch Index, a global measure of the well-being of older people, but is still ranked 12th in the world. 

New Zealand's ranking of 12th of the 96 countries measured, just ahead of Austria (13th), Finland (14th), and Ireland (15th) (United Kingdom (10th), and just trialing the United States (9th), the Untied Kingdom (10th), and Denmark (11th). Switzerland topped the charts, closely followed by Norway, Sweden, Germany, and Canada.

According to the index, New Zealand performed best in the income security domain (78.4% - a 0.6% improvement), where we jumped 4 places, with high superannuation coverage (98%), a reduction in our 'old age poverty rate', and increase in the standard of living for older people accounting for this.

New Zealand's high placing comes as no surprise to Human Rights Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue.

“Over 21 per cent of over 65 year olds continue to work. Over 30 per cent are volunteers, and the majority live independent productive lives."

"Our Ageing Workforce Survey identified that older New Zealanders are not seeking an easy transition into retirement, instead preferring a challenge and rewarding role, in which they are prepared to work hard." 

Our highest worldwide placing is in the health domain (9th), with our life expectancy of 60 (25th) and our health life expectancy of 60 (18th), well above the regional average.

New Zealand ranks lowest in the capability domain (57.8%), dropping 8 places to 14th due to a 10% reduction in our educational attainment rate (52.5%) from the 2014. This is balanced by a high employment rate among older people (74.4%).

Our lowest global placing came in our 'enabling environment' ranking (30th), due to low satisfaction of older people with safety (58%) and access to transportation (49%).

“While clearly our senior citizens are valuable contributors to our society and economy, sadly, elder abuse in New Zealand is a growing and serious concern.”

Dr Blue highlights the International Day of the Older Person as an opportunity to not only celebrate our senior citizens, but also to acknowledge the need to protect our kaumatua, or older people from abuse and neglect.

“Seventy five per cent of abuse of elderly people comes from a family member and can range from neglect, physical and psychological abuse, to financial abuse. Like family violence, there is often deep shame by the victim in admitting what is happening, particularly when it is financial abuse by a family member.”

“From a human rights perspective, clearly local and central government policy development must include specific consideration of our ageing population and their right to a decent standard of living and protection from harm,” Dr Blue said.

Income Secuirty Indicators
Indicators dataWhat does this mean?
Pension coverage: 98.0 % people over 65 receiving a pension.
Old age poverty rate: 9.1 % of people aged 60+ with an income of less than half the country's median income.
Relative welfare: 86.2 Average income/consumption of people aged 60+ as a % of average income/consumption of the rest of the population.
GNI per capita: US$ 30,885.9 This is a proxy for standard of living of people within a country. It aims to provide comparison across countries.
Health Status indicators
Indicators dataWhat does this mean?
Life expectancy at 60: 25 The average number of years a person aged 60 can expect to live.
Healthy life expectancy at 60:18.3 The average number of years a person aged 60 can expect to live in good health.
Relative psychological/mental wellbeing:94.4 % of people over 50 who feel their life has meaning compared with people aged 35-49 who feel the same.
The indicator measures self-assessed mental well-being.
Capability Indicators
Indicators dataWhat does this mean?
Employment of older people: 74.4 % of the population aged 55-64 that are employed.
The indicator measures older people's access to the labour market and their ability to supplement pension income with wages, and their access to work related networks. The employment rate is a proxy for the economic empowerment of older people.
Educational attainment:52.5 % of population aged 60+ with secondary or higher education.
Education is a proxy of lifetime accumulation of skills and competencies that shows social and human capital potential inherent among older people.
Enabling societies and environments indicators
Indicators dataWhat does this mean?
Social connections: 95 % of people over 50 who have relatives or friends they can count on when in trouble.
Physical safety: 58 % of people over 50 who feel safe walking alone at night in the city or area where they live.
Civic freedom: 97 % of people over 50 who are satisfied with the freedom of choice in their life.
Access to public transport: 49 % of people over 50 who are satisfied with the local public transportation systems.
Name of scheme Superannuation
Monthly value in local currency 1512
Monthly value in US$ 1263
Per cent of average income (GDP per capita) 34.40%
Age of eligibility 65
Targeting Universal
Total cost (% of GDP) 3.87%
Country income level High income: OECD
Superannuation data provided by Pension Watch.

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