Fifth place may not earn a trophy but it’s a pretty good spot for Canada to rank on a list of the best countries to grow old in.
The UN-backed survey put together by HelpAge International – an advocacy group for seniors – chalked our top five placement up to a solid universal health care system, relatively long life expectancy and good old age pension programs.
The report looked at the quality of life for the elderly in 91 countries.
A Good Sign For A Growing Demographic
This is great news for Canada, where roughly 5.2 million people – about 15 per cent of the population – is 65 years or older, according to 2012 statistics from Stats Canada.
That stat is expected to double over the next 25 years as the remainder of boomers and their offspring enter their golden years.
Luckily in Canada there are a number of economic factors that make it a prime place to settle down in retirement (or if you’re already here, stick around).
Canada Pension Plan Gets Top Nod
On the whole, the Canada Pension Plan is probably one of the country’s greatest assets.
Its flexibility lets Canadians retire early or late and what they get out of it is all based on how much they put in while working.
Pension plans in general have been doing well in Canada despite several years of worldwide financial turmoil. According to the Mercer Pension Health Index – which tracks the health of the pension plan industry – as of mid-June Canada’s pension industry was able to meet 94 per cent of member’s promised future income versus 76 per cent in 2011.
Strength In Assets
Meanwhile, 10-year Government of Canada Bond rates had spiked from 2.3 per cent at the start of 2013 to 3.2 per cent in late August – and it’s not just pension assets.
According to a special retirement report put together by Canadian Business magazine, in addition to holding $1.9 billion in assets, Canadians also hold $1.9 billion in real estate and $2.6 billion in unregistered savings and other assets.
Income Security A Slight Weakness
But despite the strength of Canada’s pension plans, the country still ranked 26th in terms of income security.
Although 78 per cent of Canadians over 65 get a pension, nations like the Netherlands and Norway offer pension coverage more widely and at a younger age.
Canada also ranked ninth in employment prospects and education among retirees with 58.3 per cent of Canada’s population between the ages of 55 and 64 gainfully employed.
In terms of being an enabling environment – which looks at civic freedom, public transportation and physical safety – Canada placed 9th with places like the Netherlands, Austria and Ireland being top runners in this category.
Universal Healthcare and Housing Admired Worldwide
Unsurprisingly, Canada dominated in the healthcare category coming in second. It’s also worth noting that in 2012, Canada, Ireland and the United States continued to be home to the most affordable housing markets in the world.
Here’s a break down of the best and the worst according to the U.N.-backed report:
The Best – Sweden
Swedes have the best country to retire in, according to the index. Bolstered by its generous welfare state, the Scandinavian nation was sitting pretty in the survey scoring in the top 10 in all four areas – income security, health status, employment and education, and enabling environment. The country’s first pension plan was introduced 100 years ago and life expectancy is among the highest in the world. According to the report, one in 10 of today’s children can expect to live to 100 years old in the country.
The Worst – Afghanistan
The conflict-stricken nation sat at last place in the poll. In Afghanistan. Life expectancy is 76 years versus 85 years in Canada, and in terms of health, the country ranked 91. The countries highest ranking was 75th in income security.