The US, Australia and Canada lead, but no G20 country is fully prepared for the needs of ageing populations, according to new research from the Economist Intelligence Unit

July 24, 2020 - 05:34
The US, Australia and Canada lead, but no G20 country is fully prepared for the needs of ageing populations, according to new research from the Economist Intelligence Unit
  • The US ranks the highestglobally in creating an enabling environment supportive of longevity andhealthy ageing with an overall score of 76.1 out of a possible 100
  • Canada (3rd) and Brazil (11th) scoreabove the global average of 50.4, while Argentina (13th) and Mexico (14th) havefurther room to improve their response
  • Countries with the oldestpopulations are better positioned to address the needs of older people acrossthe globe
  • Although high-income countriesare more prepared, upper middle-income countries such as Brazil are making clearprogress
  • Older people's views are notwell represented in policy consultation
  • Availability of health andsocial care remains a concern with supply of services increasingly failing tokeep up with demand


HONG KONG, CHINA - Media OutReach - 22 July 2020 - Morepeople are living into old age than ever before. In 2018 The World HealthOrganization predicted that by 2020 there would be more people aged over 60years than there are children under 5 years. This prediction is on track to becorrect,and numbers in the older cohort continue to rise. This hascreated challenges in providing health and social services for burgeoning olderpopulations and governments across the globe have been slow to react.Priorities are now shifting from solely addressing the health of older people,to how societies can maximise this opportunity and provide effective, inclusiveenvironments in which to age.

This report from The Economist Intelligence Unit describesfindings from the "Scaling Healthy ageing, Inclusiveenvironments and Financial security Today" (SHIFT) Index", a benchmarking analysis around ageingsocieties, supported by Amgen. The SHIFTIndex benchmarks against a set of national-level leading practices increating an enabling environment supportive of longevity and healthy ageing forsocieties in the 19 countries comprising the Group of Twenty (G20). The SHIFT Index captures the multifactorialvariables that impact ageing across three domains: adaptive health and socialcare systems; accessible economic opportunity; and inclusive social structuresand institutions.

The research found that no G20 country isfully prepared to support healthy, financially secure, socially-connected olderpeople. The US, Australia, Canada and South Korea ranked highest in our indexwith scores in the 70s out of 100 (see table below). Broadly, those countrieswith a higher proportion of people aged over 50--including the three highest ranking countries plus South Korea,Germany, France and Japan--are implementing moreleading practices to enable inclusive environments. Wealthy countries may findit easier to respond, but wealth is not a prerequisite for providing supportiveenvironments. The best scoring health systems tend to be high-income countries,but upper-middle income Brazil, and lower-middle income Indonesia are alsomaking strides to improve health systems.

As a whole, the G20 countries perform bestin providing adaptive healthcare systems and worst in providing inclusivesocial structures and institutions, indicating that countries still have workto do to shift the focus towards building more welcoming societies for olderadults as they age. Countries also have room to improve in providing moreaccessible economic opportunities to older workers.


Despite clear progress made, governmentshave more work to do to make sure their health systems are adaptive to theneeds of older adults as they age, while also fostering inclusion and ensuringindividual economic security. A keybarrier to addressing this is lack of robust age-disaggregated data collectionby governments in areas such as dedicated health professionals, the extent ofisolation and loneliness as well as mental health.


The SHIFTIndex reveals several priority areas that may form the basis of policyresponses to develop more accessible and inclusive societies for older people:


  1. Collect better data: Countriesshould collect and publish detailed, age-disaggregated health and economic dataannually so policymakers can develop evidence-based programs and policies.
  2. Address poverty among olderpeople: Some older adults choose to work longer, others must. Governments canensure the financial health and security of older adults by creating moreinclusive work environments. This starts with removing barriers to workinglonger that exist in some markets.
  3. Prevent a care crisis among theelderly: The provision of care for older adults--both formal and informal--andthe accessibility of, or access to, long-term care is ill-defined and is anarea for further research.
  4. Enable older people's voices tobe heard: The views and needs of older people are not routinely collected andthey are not represented well in policy consultation.
  5. Address age-relateddiscrimination: Few countries categorise age-discrimination as a crime outsideof employment practices. Fighting discrimination as well as physical, emotionaland financial abuse of older adults, will encourage greater social cohesionacross generations.
  6. Support training and upskillingof older people: Supporting older people with the skills and help needed tonavigate increasingly complex and digitised health and social care systemsshould be an area of focus.


Jesse Quigley Jones, managing editor at TheEconomist Intelligence Unit and editor of the report, said, "The challengesthat ageing populations present for economies and health systems have long-beenunderstood, yet provision of inclusive, supportive environments for olderpeople has not been a high-profile policy priority. Although wealth has emergedas a theme in the Index as a contributing factor towards healthy ageingindicators, it is not necessarily a prerequisite for providing supportiveenvironments. Lower-income nations can take low-cost measures that improveageing societies, such as enacting inclusive work environment policies andfostering inclusive and enabling social environments.


With older people particularly vulnerableto the health and societal impact of the covid-19 pandemic, it is moreimportant than ever for older people to lead healthy, independent lives for aslong as possible and avoid the need for institutional care. While our data werecollected pre-pandemic, the priorities identified in the report are now throwninto sharper light and may serve as a wakeup call for governments across theglobe for providing adaptable, accessible and inclusive environments in whichpopulations can age."


Forthe whitepaper, infographic and index workbook, please

About the research

Shifting demographics: a global study oninclusive ageing is a report by The EconomistIntelligence Unit, supported by Amgen. It considers policy efforts to addressactive and inclusive ageing in 19 countries based on a first-of-its-kind indexthat benchmarks each country's performance across accessible and affordablehealthcare, social connectivity among older adults, and finance security practicesand policies.

The "Scaling Healthy ageing, Inclusiveenvironments and Financial security Today" (SHIFT) Index and the relatedresearch programme whose findings form the basis for this report were informedby extensive research and guided by an international panel of experts fromacross academia, government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) andinternational financial institutions.

The following 19 countries (comprisingthe G20 and excluding the EU) are included in this analysis: Argentina, Australia,Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico,Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK and the US.These were selected to broadly represent the world: covering roughly 65% of thepopulation and 75% of global GDP.

About The Economist Intelligence Unit

The EconomistIntelligence Unit is the world leader in global business intelligence. It isthe business-to-business arm of The Economist Group, which publishes TheEconomist newspaper. The Economist Intelligence Unit helps executives makebetter decisions by providing timely, reliable and impartial analysis onworldwide market trends and business strategies.

More informationcan be found at or

About Amgen

Amgen is committedto unlocking the potential of biology for patients suffering from seriousillnesses, by discovering, developing, manufacturing and delivering innovativehuman therapeutics. This approach begins by using tools like advanced humangenetics to unravel the complexities of disease and understand the fundamentalsof human biology.

Amgen focuses onareas of high unmet medical need, and leverages its expertise to strive forsolutions that improve health outcomes and dramatically improve people's lives.A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen has grown to be one of the world'sleading independent biotechnology companies, has reached millions of patientsaround the world, and is developing a pipeline of medicines with breakawaypotential.

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