The Global AgeWatch Index 2014, by HelpAge International, delivers some tough truths on how well older citizens in 96 countries around the world fare against various social and economic metrics. The report makes particularly sobering reading for Malta, which ranks at a distinctly modest 55.
For a nation that prides itself on the quality of its health service and the strength of its family networks, ready to step in and support older members of society, the fact that Malta ranks lower than countries such as Korea and Nicaragua is not good news at all. On the other hand, Norway topped the index, with Sweden placing a close second. Afghanistan is the worst place to live in for persons over 60, according to the Index.
HelpAge’s report covers over 90% of the world’s population of over 60s, and uses metrics to measure wellbeing according to income security, health, personal capability and an enabling environment.
Adding additional context to this analysis is the UN’s report on World Population to 2300 ,which predicts that for the period 2050-2055, Malta will have the world’s ninth highest life expectancy at birth (of 84.5), while for 2100-2105, Malta will have moved to fourth in the life expectancy table (with a life expectancy at birth of 90). In fact, the good news continues for Malta as by the period covering the years 2295 to 2300 Maltese citizens will be looking forward to a life expectancy at birth of 105.7 years, placing second in the world.
However, there is no merit to living longer if one has to lead a poor quality of life, which is why the Global AgeWatch Index needs to be understood.
Looking at the results in a little more detail, the first point is that Malta’s overall global ranking for health status is actually a respectable 20th place. With a life expectancy for those aged 60 of 24 years; and with Maltese 60-year-olds being able to look forward to 17.3 years of healthy living, it looks like Malta is getting the important outcomes right.
Malta then ranks moderately for enabling societies and environments, which brings together four metrics: social connections; physical safety; civic freedom; and access to public transport.
Interestingly, Malta scores exceptionally well for social connections and civic freedoms, and acceptably for physical safety. However, only 34% of people over 50, participating in the report, were satisfied with the local transport systems.
In the domain of income security, Malta places 52nd overall, and lowest in Western Europe. The income security ranking brings together pension coverage, old age poverty rate, relative welfare, and GDP per capita. This in itself highlights the importance of encouraging individuals to take action and accept personal responsibility on financial matters, thinking ahead for their future selves rather than spending everything.
Malta’s worst performing sub-index is capability, which brings together employment of older-people and educational attainment, where Malta ranks 87th in the world. The report explains that it measures the ability of older people to find work and use employment to boost their pension incomes.
According to HelpAge International, only 33.6% of the population in Malta?? aged 55-64 is employed, and only 40% of Malta’s population, aged 60 and over, have a secondary, or higher, level of education. Employment offers not only financial benefits, but also social and motivational ones, and while some people may have left the workplace by choice, others may have left because they were unable to find work suited to their skillsets. Furthermore, Malta ranks low in educational attainment of its senior citizens. This emphasises the importance of training targeted at people aged 55 or more With an excellent local university and a high level of university attendance, while it may take time, ultimately Malta will see an increasingly well-educated senior age-bracket.
Income and employment of older people are both critical issues requiring the direct attention of the government. A more educated workforce, especially with respect to financial education, is likely to be more willing to self-develop and to be more financially independent. Going hand-in-hand with this will be an increased earning potential of Malta’s older and most experienced workers.
This process should still be supported by Government initiatives emphasising the benefits to older employees of continuous skills development, and to employers of taking advantage of the far greater body of experience of older employees. Pensions and their funding is another area that would benefit from careful reform to ensure that older people can enjoy the best quality of life they can get throughout their well-earned retirement.
To view the full report, you can go to www.helpage.org/global-agewatch.
To find out what you need to do to plan your retirement today, use MSV Life’s Retirement Planning Tool by visiting www.msvlife.com/myfuture. You can contact MSV Life at email@example.com, or on Freephone 8007 2220. You may also call at any branch of Bank of Valletta or APS Bank, or contact any of MSV Life’s Tied Insurance Intermediaries.
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