Mauritius has been ranked first in Africa for guaranteeing economic and social wellbeing to older people, according to the Global AgeWatch Index 2014.

The Global AgeWatch Index measures wellbeing in four key areas: income security, health, personal capability and an enabling environment.

The report ranked Mauritius and South Africa as the best performers among African countries with global ranks of 38 and 80 respectively.

Mauritius has done particularly well in the income security domain standing at 8th place, as well in the enabling environment domain with 38th place, reflecting its long-term investment in social security for older citizens. On the remaining criteria, Mauritius is ranked 63rd for Health Status and 70th for capability.

Among African countries with the highest percentage of population aged 60-plus in 2014, Mauritius is ranked first with 14.2% of its population above 60 years of age, followed by South Africa, Morocco, Ghana and Mozambique with 8.7%, 8.1%, 5.3% and 5.1% respectively.

The report indicated that the island’s percentage of population aged 60-plus is expected to continuously increase to 22.8% in 2030 and hit 29.6% in 2050.

Mauritius is among the few countries globally which distribute a universal social pension, based solely on age and residency or citizenship, to guarantee universal pension coverage.

The simple eligibility criteria mean that these schemes are relatively straightforward to implement, even in low-income countries, and their universality means that people are not put off paying into contributory schemes.

In the income security domain, 26 countries have a value of less than 50 per cent of the “benchmark” values set by Norway and France, the best-performing countries, at 89.1 and 88.0 respectively.

But, Mauritius, Brazil and South Africa shine in this category, emerging as the three middle-income countries with a value that is at least 90% of the best-performing countries, showing how social pensions are boosting pension income coverage in these countries.

According to the report, only one in four people over 65 receive a pension in low and middle-income countries, as providing basic social protection to older people is about recognising the right to a dignified old age as well as the need for financial independence.

Hence, other countries should consider trying out and testing such policies.

On a global perspective, Norway is the best country to age in. Apart from the booming Asian economy of Japan, which is ranked 9th, all the top 10 countries hail from Western Europe, North America and Australasia.

Afghanistan, which is ranked 96th, is the worst country to be old in. All regions are represented in the lowest quarter, with African countries making up half of those with low-income security rankings and poor health results.

Launched by HelpAge, the 2014 Global AgeWatch Index has ranked 96 countries according to the social and economic wellbeing of older people, and this survey represents 91 per cent or nine out of ten people over 60 across the world.

The Global AgeWatch Index 2014 took into consideration the situation of older people in 96 countries of the world and highlighted which countries are doing best for their older populations and how this links with policies towards pensions, health, education, employment and the social environment in which older people live.

The report noted that some countries may have made substantial progress towards guaranteeing basic income security in old age, but half of the world’s population can still expect to spend their old age without a pension.

The Index also notes that economic growth alone will not improve older people’s wellbeing and specific policies need to be put in place to address the implications of ageing.

Image (Flickr): The report indicated that the island’s percentage of population aged 60-plus is expected to continuously increase from 14.2% in 2014 to 22.8% in 2030 and hit 29.6% in 2050.

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