The Netherlands ranks sixth in global ageing index

The Global AgeWatch Index has ranked the Netherlands sixth out of 96 countries as one of the best countries to grow old in.

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

About Global AgeWatch Index

The Global AgeWatch Index brings together a unique set of internationally comparable data based on four domains: Income Security, Health Status, Capability (education and employment), and Enabling Environment. 

These four domains were selected because they were identified by older people and policymakers alike as key enablers of well-being in older generations.

Ranking criteria

The Index has been categorised into four key areas of study, which include 13 indicators that assess the best overall quality of life for old people:

Income Security

This domain analyses people's access to a sufficient amount of income, and the capacity to use it independently, in order to meet basic needs in older age.

Health Status

The three indicators used for the health domain provide information about physical and psychological well-being.


The employment and education indicators in this domain look at different aspects of the empowerment of older people.

Enabling Environment

This domain assess older people's perception of social connectedness, safety, civic freedom and access to public transport.

The results have been derived from international data sources, including the World Bank, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The Index has benefited from a global advisory panel of more than 40 independent experts in ageing, health, social protection and human development.

Each country is given a rating out of 100 according to these criteria, with the highest scores representing the best standard of living for those over 60.

The Netherlands ranks 6th worldwide

The Netherlands ranks sixth overall in the Index and ranks consistently high in all domains. Although dropping a couple of places from last year, the Netherlands exceeded in the categories of Income Security and Enabling Environment. Switzerland topped the list, followed by Norway and Sweden.

Global AgeWatch Index 2015 Top 10

Rank  Country
1 Switzerland
2 Norway
3 Sweden
4 Germany
5 Canada
6 The Netherlands
7 Iceland
8 Japan
10 United Kingdom

The Netherlands ranked 12th in the Capability domain, with a relatively high rate of educational attainment for its region (81,3 percent). The Netherlands ranked lowest in the health domain at 13th place.

The Netherlands ranked 5th for Income Security with a low old age poverty rate for its region (3 percent) and 100 percent pension income coverage. The country was also positioned 5th in the Enabling Environment domain, with above average values on all indicators in this area.

The Netherlands' strengths

Although Switzerland topped the list ovreall, it came 27th in Income Security, compared with the Netherlands which was ranked 5th worldwide. Luxembourg came first place and Malawi was considered the worst country for Income Security.

Top 10 countries for Income Security

Rank Country
1 Luxembourg
2 Norway
3 France
4 Iceland
5 The Netherlands
6 Austria
7 Sweden
8 Uruguay
9 Mauritius
10 Canada

One of the winning factors for the Netherlands was its 100 percent pension income coverage. There are a number of Dutch pension schemes that are available to residents, including expats.

As well as Income Security, the Netherlands also ranked 5th in Enabling Environment. The results show that 91 percent of people over 50 said that they had relatives and friends they could count on when in trouble. 95 percent of people over 50 were satisfied with the freedom of choice in their lives.

Europe dominates the top 10

Since 2014 there have been some considerable shifts to the ranks, however European countries continue to rule the top 10. Besides the Netherlands, Iceland is the only other country in the top 10 that has held its position from 2014, ranked 7th.

With nearly 24 percent of its population over 60, Switzerland moved up in the ranks from 3rd to 1st, while Norway dropped to 2nd position, moving Sweden to 3rd. New Zealand fell out of the top 10 to 12th position and was replaced by the UK which took the 10th place.

Global rankings

Whilst western European countries dominated the top 10, Africa is overrepresented at the bottom, with countries from the region occupying seven of the 10 lowest places.

As in 2013 and 2014, the top 19 places are taken by industrialised nations. The other lowest scorers all share a background of conflict (West Bank and Gaza, Pakistan and Afghanistan), which negatively impacted nearly every indicator in the Index.

Afghanistan ranks last at 96, with 4 percent of its population aged 60 and over. The Index suggests that there are few local or national policies to promote the well-being of older people here.

Parvinder Marwaha


Parvinder Marwaha

British-born editor Parvinder studied architecture in the UK. Amsterdam’s architecture and design scene led her to the city, as well the obvious perks of canal-side living. She writes for various...

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