• 12
    countries
  • 61
    % of the
    Global
    Economy
  • 47
    % of the
    Global 65+
    Population

Key

  • Leader
  • Mover
  • Laggard
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  • Canada
    Canada
  • United States
    United States
  • Mexico
    Mexico
  • Brazil
    Brazil
  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
  • Germany
    Germany
  • Turkey
    Turkey
  • Israel
    Israel
  • South Africa
    South Africa
  • China
    China
  • Korea
    Korea
  • Japan
    Japan
  • Canada
    Canada
  • United States
    United States
  • Mexico
    Mexico
  • Brazil
    Brazil
  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
  • Germany
    Germany
  • Turkey
    Turkey
  • Israel
    Israel
  • South Africa
    South Africa
  • China
    China
  • Korea
    Korea
  • Japan
    Japan
  • Canada
    Canada
  • United States
    United States
  • Mexico
    Mexico
  • Brazil
    Brazil
  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
  • Germany
    Germany
  • Turkey
    Turkey
  • Israel
    Israel
  • South Africa
    South Africa
  • China
    China
  • Korea
    Korea
  • Japan
    Japan
  • Canada
    Canada
  • United States
    United States
  • Mexico
    Mexico
  • Brazil
    Brazil
  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
  • Germany
    Germany
  • Turkey
    Turkey
  • Israel
    Israel
  • South Africa
    South Africa
  • China
    China
  • Korea
    Korea
  • Japan
    Japan
  • Community Social Infrastructure
  • Productive Opportunity
  • Technological Engagement
  • Healthcare & Wellness
Brazil
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Brazil

Healthcare & Wellness

Although below the regional average, the longevity and healthy life expectancy of Brazilians have increased significantly over the past decade, partly thanks to the improvements in the country’s healthcare system. By introducing a dual healthcare system in 1988, Brazil guaranteed the right to free healthcare for all citizens through the Unified Health System (SUS) and allowed for the parallel existence of a private healthcare system. However, major gaps exist when it comes to older citizens in both medical and long-term care. To address this, the government is working to address the needs of older patients while also improving the broader Brazilian healthcare system.

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Brazil
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Brazil

Productive Opportunity

Tapping productive opportunity among the older population is not a priority for the Brazilian government, which has focused on addressing immediate development issues, such as poverty, inequality, and credit booms. Social welfare programs have used direct cash payments as the primary tool to support vulnerable groups, creating a disincentive for labor force participation. Looking ahead, the government has pledged to undertake potential reform as part of its efforts to pursue long-term fiscal sustainability, but it has attracted widespread opposition.

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Brazil
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Brazil

Technological Engagement

Interest in the older-age market is growing in the Brazilian technology sector, as some local companies, led by startups, have begun to develop products using information and communication technology (ICT) to meet the needs of older adults and their families. The government has also increased funding for innovations that assist with independent living of older adults and people with disabilities. However, the digital divide between older adults and the rest of the population and limited support for digital literacy remain barriers to fully unleashing this promising market.

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Brazil
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Brazil

With a relatively young population and other development priorities, accommodating aging has not yet become a focus of the Brazilian government. Starting in the 1980s, Brazil put in place a set of legal safeguards to protect the rights of older adults as part of its broader effort to pursue social inclusiveness, but in practice policy implementation has fallen short in areas such as transportation and housing accessibility. However, as the Brazilian population begins to age, and independence increases, support for “active aging” is gaining ground, exhibited by efforts of some local governments, like the state of São Paulo, as well as leading NGOs, to promote age-friendly cities.

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Canada
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Canada

Community Social Infrastructure

The majority of older Canadians live independently in their communities, with a higher degree of social connection than their counterparts in most OECD countries. This is partly a result of efforts made by the Canadian government, at both the federal and local levels, to promote age-friendly communities and to fund community-based projects that are tailored to local needs. Accessibility to public transportation and facilities falls short, partly due to the absence of relevant national legislation.

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Canada
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Canada

Technological Engagement

Older Canadians are increasingly integrating information and communication technologies (ICT) into their daily lives with the support of community-led programs focused on skills development. In recent years, both the government and the private sector have stepped up efforts to support the development and commercialization of digital products and solutions that meet the needs of older adults and caregivers, with some success, particularly in the healthcare sector.

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Canada
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Canada

Productive Opportunity

Canada has seen a deceleration in its workforce growth over the past decade, with the trend expected to continue as the baby boom generation retires. In response, the government has placed greater emphasis on broadening the labor force participation of all citizens, including older people. However, the transition from the Harper administration, which favored fiscal conservatism, to the more liberal Trudeau administration, which is prioritizing increased public spending and social supports, has resulted in a different policy direction with respect to older workers. The change is evidenced in the Trudeau administration’s decision to cancel a planned increase in the pensionable age of the basic Old Age Security to 67 in 2023, citing the importance of protecting vulnerable seniors. Instead, the new administration has stated its intention to increase incentives for those who are willing and able to remain in the labor force.

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China
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China

Healthcare & Wellness

Improving healthcare and wellness of older adults is another priority on China’s aging policy agenda. Broadly, China has been undertaking a major reform of its healthcare system, including expanding the coverage of universal basic health insurance, increasing the function of primary care, and intensifying the focus on healthy lifestyle promotion across the society. Through the reform, the government is seeking to boost the health of the general population and to contribute to improved health in older adults for in the future.

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Canada
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Canada

Healthcare & Wellness

Canada is a global leader in longevity, although it has a larger gap between lifespan and healthspan than its peers. In light of the rising healthcare demand from an aging population and limitations on the healthcare system, both the federal and provincial governments have focused on supporting home-based care and increasing support for informal caregivers. Meanwhile, efforts are underway to improve the hospital environment so that it is friendly for older adults.

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China
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China

Productive Opportunity

The Chinese government has thus far missed the productive opportunity that the older labor force represents. As in other countries, older Chinese workers face barriers, including age discrimination by employers and lack of relevant skills. In contrast to its efforts to improve social infrastructure for older adults, the government has paid much less attention to providing training to improve their employability and to cultivating age-friendly workplaces. The lack of legal protection for the rights and interests of older adults who resume working post-retirement also inhibits this population from re-entering the labor force.

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China
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China

Technological Engagement

Actively incorporating digital technology into its competitiveness strategy, the Chinese government has seized on the opportunity to develop information and communication technology (ICT)-driven solutions to accommodate the needs of older adults. The central government highlighted the task of developing the smart care sector for older adults in its “Internet+” Action Plan launched in 2015, and is seeking to promote the use of online information platforms for older-age care and Internet-based portable devices in professional caregiving.

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China
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China

Community Social Infrastructure

The number of older adults living independently in China is expected to double by 2030. To enable aging in place, the Chinese government has intensified efforts to establish a more age-friendly social infrastructure. An extensive network of community/village recreation centers and schools for older adults has been built nationwide to provide various entertainment and cultural activities, although the distribution density of these facilities remains relatively low in rural areas. The government has also encouraged active aging by promoting volunteer activities.

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Germany
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Germany

Community Social Infrastructure

The older population in Germany is highly independent and engaged. Volunteerism is growing, thanks in part to government-sponsored programs that help connect older people with volunteer opportunities that take advantage of their unique experience and skills. Both government and non-government organizations (NGOs) have also used cross-generational interaction as a way to provide community support to older adults. Innovative programs include shared living between older and younger people, and the pairing of nursing homes with elementary schools.

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Germany
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Germany

Technological Engagement

Older German adults stand out for their high levels of technology adoption − the vast majority are using the Internet at least once per week. The country is also leading in the development of specific technologies intended for older adult use, such as Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) technology, which is intended to assist older people in functioning independently. The government has focused both on increasing access to technology, as well as further developing innovative technological solutions to assist the older population in their daily lives. Interesting models have emerged for enhancing digital literacy, helping older adults take on a more active role as collaborators in training their peers in the skills needed to use basic technologies.

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Germany
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Germany

Productive Opportunity

Germany’s older adult labor force participation rate remains low but is growing rapidly. Germany’s “baby boom” generation will begin to reach the retirement age of 65 in 2019, which will set off a dramatic acceleration in the shrinking of its labor force. In order to address this, the government has undertaken retirement reforms, including raising the pensionable age and introducing flexible retirement options, and has established programs to provide employment opportunities, education, and training, and to improve workplace conditions for older employees.

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Germany
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Germany

Healthcare & Wellness

The super-aged population in Germany has a high healthy life expectancy, with three-quarters of those age 65 and older reporting that they still feel fit. However, the prevalence of chronic conditions and psychological conditions like dementia is growing and driving demand for long-term care (LTC) to increase substantially. Germany is an early mover in requiring LTC insurance and is also working to strengthen home-based care and to widen the scope of beneficiaries, with particular emphasis on the population with dementia. Policies have also endeavored to improve the quality and affordability of care. The government is also focused on ensuring that older adults in underserviced rural areas have access to the same quality of care as in urban areas, leveraging e-health technology.

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Israel
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Israel

Healthcare & Wellness

Both life expectancy and healthy life expectancy in Israel are among the highest in the world and continue to extend. As in most other countries, however, the increase in “healthspan” tends to lag behind “lifespan.” In response, the government has focused on supporting home and community care services. As in many countries, Israel’s LTC system is highly fragmented in terms of care providers, regulation, and financial responsibilities, resulting in service gaps, duplication, inefficient incentives, and inadequate investment in prevention and rehabilitation. However, reform has been put on hold, partly due to budgetary concerns.

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Israel
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Israel

Productive Opportunity

Israel has relatively high older-age labor force participation, compared with other OECD countries, partly due to its pension system and retirement age reform in the early 2000s. As the population continues to age, the government is paying greater attention to older adults’ economic participation. A variety of policies and programs have been put in place, often in collaboration with NGOs, to create employment opportunities for older adults and to improve their employability, with an emerging focus on helping older job-seekers tackle online job applications. One potential policy that could also immediately boost older adults’ participation in the labor force would be to raise women’s retirement age, an idea that has been controversial.

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Israel
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Israel

Technological Engagement

Dubbed the “Startup Nation,” Israel’s technology sector has begun to move into the aging-related market in recent years. A number of aging-tech startups and projects have emerged, which are based in Israel but keen to tap global markets. Policy efforts have also been made to improve digital literacy, helping to reduce the digital divide between older and younger populations and contributing to increased adoption of digital devices among older adults.

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Israel
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Israel

Community Social Infrastructure

Cultural and historical factors have produced a deep respect for older Israelis by the broader society. The current generation of older people (particularly those age 75 and older) played a central role in building the country after its founding in 1948. These cultural values are reflected in the many long-standing programs operated by the government, often in collaboration with NGOs, to enable active aging and community-based engagement. In recent years, they have grown to include a focus on intergenerational connections and the integration of recent immigrants. A variety of government efforts have also been made to improve the accessibility of public facilities and transportation in order to maintain older adults’ independence, but enforcement of relevant regulations needs to be strengthened at the local level.

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Japan
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Japan

Community Social Infrastructure

Rapid urbanization and demographic shifts over the last decade have laid the groundwork for a lonely and isolated life for many older people in Japan and provided the impetus to design a more age-friendly social infrastructure that supports the needs and wellness of seniors. Innovative solutions have been developed to utilize existing infrastructure to deliver services and to prevent social isolation. Housing and urban planning projects are incorporating new features to accommodate a healthy and independent older population. One area of weakness is in mobility. While Japan has made great strides, public transportation services in suburban areas and barrier-free facilities in older buildings are still lacking.

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Japan
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Japan

Technological Engagement

With over half of its population age 60 and over online, and the nation’s competitive edge in information and communications technology (ICT), Japan is better positioned than most countries to capitalize on new technologies for older consumers. The government has been seeking ICT-driven solutions in various aspects of older adults’ lifestyle, ranging from healthcare and social welfare to economic participation. The government and private sector are also seeking to secure a competitive advantage in the booming global older-age market, with a focus on developing robotics technologies to meet the needs of older people and caregivers.

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Japan
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Japan

Productive Opportunity

Japan has the world’s most rapidly shrinking population ages 15 through 64, a trend that has elevated the importance of mobilizing the older workforce to boost economic growth and to meet public pension obligations. This economic imperative aligns with the interests of Japanese seniors, who have indicated a strong desire to remain active and employed. The government has adopted a variety of policy measures to increase workforce participation among older people, ranging from reforming the retirement system to assisting older people w ith job seeking. However, employers have yet to recognize fully the productive potential of the older population, thus far tending to hire older workers out of social or legal obligation. As a result, a mismatch persists between the skills and abilities of older job seekers and the nature of job positions available to them, leading to missed opportunity for the economy as a whole.

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Japan
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Japan

Healthcare & Wellness

Already the global leader in longevity, the share of people age 80 and older among the senior population will increase by more than one-third to 42 percent by 2050. Japan is one of the very few countries in the world to require long-term care insurance (LTCI). To keep up with the healthcare needs of the aging population and to ensure fiscal sustainability, the Japanese government has constantly adapted its LTCI program to enable older people to lead more independent lives and to support family caregivers. In particular, the government has increasingly focused on home- and community-based care and prevention programs.

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Korea
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Korea

Healthcare & Wellness

Life expectancy of Korean older adults has increased significantly but has outpaced improvements in health. In an attempt to address this gap and improve the health of the older population, the government has adopted proactive, preventive approaches, including subsidizing regular checkups and promoting healthy lifestyles. More recently, the government has strived to supportlife quality and wellness of older adults by building a long-term-care benefit system, with a latest reform in 2016 aimed at improving the system’s efficiency, service coverage, and quality. To take advantage of the country’s advanced IT infrastructure, the government is seeking to harness the power of digital technology and accommodate older people’s rising demand for healthcare.

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Korea
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Korea

Productive Opportunity

The Korean government has been seeking to facilitate economic participation of both current and future retirees. To address the needs of today’s older population, whose high level of interest in employment is driven mainly by poverty, the government has augmented assistance to improve their skills and employability. Meanwhile, in the pursuit of fiscal sustainability of the public pension system, the government has been working to extend the retirement age to allow older people who are about to retire to stay in the workforce, including the promotion of a controversial wage peak system. These policies have been met with criticism, due to a widely held zero-sum perception that older workers’ participation in the workforce takes away job opportunities for younger people. However, given the educational attainment of baby boomers, the government’s effort to increase older adults’ participation in the workforce could yield positive results for the economy as the society ages.

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Korea
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Korea

Technological Engagement

While Korea is famous for its advanced IT infrastructure, it has the greatest digital divide between the younger and older population among OECD countries. The low digital literacy among today’s older adults inhibits them from benefiting from digital technologies and requires greater training support. However, aging baby boomers, who are wealthier and better educated, represent a huge market opportunity for age-related digital products and solutions, and Korean companies are just beginning to focus on this new market, with a particular interest in mobile devices and telecom services.

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Korea
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Korea

Community Social Infrastructure

Korean society has been rapidly shifting away from its traditional extended family structure to nuclear families, resulting in an increase in the share of older people living independently and contributing to their social isolation and risk of suicide. The government has been responding with programs, including older-age volunteering activities and suicide-prevention programs, with positive results.

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Mexico
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Mexico

Technological Engagement

Among OECD countries, Mexico has the lowest rate of Internet users. Basic forms of technology remain expensive, which is keenly felt by the older population, and negative perceptions persist about the value of the Internet. The federal government has implemented a National Digital Strategy to improve accessibility, and the Mexico City government is planning to establish an annual digital event to bring the experience of digital technologies to new users. NGOs are also working to provide technology training for members of marginalized communities, but like the government, they lack programs that specifically target older adults.

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Mexico
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Mexico

Community Social Infrastructure

While younger people’s migration to cities has led to changing family dynamics, the traditional multigenerational family structure has remained strong. Mexico still has the largest household size among all OECD countries – an average of nearly four members as of 2015. Outside of families, however, community-support infrastructure is minimal. The Mexican government has established an institution specifically dedicated to the aging population and has given it the responsibility of devising methods for implementing community-based support policies for older adults. While some programs to help older adults access transportation, food, and other basic services exist in urban areas, caregiving and support services for older adults are in short supply, and neither government nor non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have taken significant steps to provide community support for older adults nationwide.

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Mexico
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Mexico

Productive Opportunity

Older adults in Mexico work longer, on average, than their peers in most other OECD countries. However, this high labor force-participation rate is largely driven by the high poverty rate associated with the country’s large informal economy. The government has focused on alleviating poverty through a non-contributory pension scheme, with less focus on tapping the productive potential of its older population. Despite the desire to work, many older Mexicans face rampant ageism among employers, and local organizations report that this often begins at as early as age 35. Efforts to provide further education and training to help the older population gain employment remain scarce, and even moreso outside of large urban areas.

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Turkey
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Turkey

Healthcare & Wellness

Both the lifespan and healthspan of older adults in Turkey have improved significantly over the past decade, thanks in part to the country’s impressive reforms to its healthcare system, achieving universal healthcare insurance coverage while reducing private health expenditure. The government is also paying greater attention to quality of medical care, evidenced by its recent moves to tighten regulation of prescription drugs and to curb overuse of medicines. In the face of rising care needs of the aging population, the Turkish government has prioritized family-centered care, providing support primarily through financial subsidies. However, there are significant gaps in meeting the needs of the middle-class aging population.

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South Africa
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South Africa

Healthcare & Wellness

Life expectancy and healthy life expectancy for older adults have both improved in the last decade in South Africa, although they are still lower than both the regional and global averages. The government has made reforming the healthcare system its primary focus in order to provide the entire population with better-quality healthcare, but there are still very limited resources available for long-term care (LTC). In order to make up for this, some NGOs have begun to provide health and LTC services for older people in the provinces and municipalities in which they operate, as well as transportation services so that they have easier access to medical facilities.

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South Africa
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South Africa

Productive Opportunity

Older adults in South Africa participate in the labor force at very low levels largely due to the provision of a non-contributory pension. Since the early 1900s, the Old Age Grant, which serves as South Africa’s only nationwide public pension scheme, has been available to adults age 60 and older who pass a means test. It is received by the overwhelming majority of the older population.

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South Africa
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South Africa

Community Social Infrastructure

South Africa is struggling to provide community support to older people nationwide, particularly in rural areas. Families remain an important system of support for older adults, the majority of whom live in households composed of extended family members, though the share of older people living alone has increased significantly in the past decade. Due to a lack of national resources and other urgent issues, the government has focused on improving physical infrastructure in housing and transportation, and it has operated indirectly through NGOs to improve community support services.

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South Africa
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South Africa

Technological Engagement

Older people in South Africa are engaging with basic technologies at higher rates than ever before, but there is still a significant digital divide. Much like in education, government efforts have been long-term endeavors geared toward the entire population, without a focus on older adults. The primary emphasis has been on technology diffusion by increasing infrastructure accessibility. While Internet penetration among older people remains low, they have begun to engage with mobile technology at much higher rates in recent years. Some local companies have begun to adapt mobile technology to the needs of older consumers, but the lack of widely available training limits uptake.

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Turkey
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Turkey

Technological Engagement

Mirroring educational attainment, older adults in Turkey have among the lowest rates of technology adoption, leading to a large digital divide with tech-savvy younger people in the country. The government has endeavored to address this by increasing access to infrastructure and hardware, but the lack of training opportunities is the primary barrier to engaging older adults in the digital era. While low adoption of digital technology has undermined the market segment’s attractiveness for the private sector, leading telecom companies have been working to improve digital inclusion, with an eye to market expansion as well as corporate social responsibility.

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Turkey
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Turkey

Community Social Infrastructure

A shift toward a nuclear family structure in Turkey is leaving more older adults living independently, but traditional family ties remain strong and continue to enable aging at home. Despite these strong family ties and respect for older adults, negative stereotypes around aging are prevalent in Turkish society. The Turkish government, as well as leading civil societies and non-governmental organizations, have been increasingly focused on cultivating positive perceptions of aging, with the country’s first Active Aging Strategy (2016–2020) expected to come out in 2017.

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Turkey
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Turkey

Productive Opportunity

The large gender disparity in the labor force, due to women retaining the central role in managing household responsibilities, has been a central obstacle to tapping the productive potential of Turkey’s older population. A push by the government to encourage families to have more children could further exacerbate this issue. As a society grappling with rising youth unemployment, economic engagement for older adults has not been elevated to a public policy priority, although ongoing gradual increases in the pensionable age are expected to boost participation in the labor force. Today, Turkey has the lowest normal pensionable age for men and women within the OECD.

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Mexico
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Mexico

Healthcare & Wellness

Mexico’s older population has a life expectancy and a healthspan that are above both the global and regional averages. However, unlike most OECD countries, they have actually fallen in recent years due to high levels of obesity and conditions stemming from poor diets and lack of access to quality nutrition resources. This has led to an increasing need for long -term care among the growing population of older adults, but the financial burden of care is higher than anywhere else in the OECD. The country has no formal system to provide long-term care and does not provide support for informal family caregivers.

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United Kingdom
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United Kingdom

Healthcare & Wellness

Technology also holds promise to help address one of the UK’s greatest challenges: the increase in healthcare and long-term care demand alongside declining budget allocations and increased austerity. These dynamics are putting pressure on older adults and informal caregivers. In response, the government is increasing funding transfers and allowing for local tax hikes to help fill the growing gaps in funding for local governments. Recognizing that much more will be needed, in 2016, the British government launched a major technology initiative aimed at leveraging technology to help cut costs and balance budgets in the face of an aging population. Related initiatives are just getting off the ground but hold promise for public-private collaborations between the National Health Service (NHS) and industry to develop and deploy technologies that will help reduce costs and enable older adults to age in place longer and more comfortably.

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United Kingdom
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United Kingdom

Productive Opportunity

Recognizing the economic potential of their aging population, the British government has sought to foster more age-friendly labor markets. In addition to reforming the pension and public benefit system to provide incentives to stay in the labor force, a range of other policies have been pursued with this objective in mind, including those that provide assistance to help older adults go back to work. However, research by Age UK has shown poor outcomes for many older workers who face a range of challenges such as hourly cutbacks, insecure employment, and difficulty transitioning in the tech-based economy. While the labor-participation rate is increasing, there remains notable age discrimination in the workplace in spite of legislative programs over many years attempting to address it.

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United Kingdom
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United Kingdom

Community Social Infrastructure

While the British government recognized the importance of social inclusion with a task force dedicated to this issue, this group was abolished in 2010, and the policy area is no longer an explicit focus. NGOs and the private sector have attempted to fill the gap by developing innovative approaches to enhance social inclusion, transportation access, and suitable housing stock. Funding remains a challenge in areas such as transportation, housing retrofits, and winter heating subsidies, but increasing local governments’ ability to raise needed revenue, collaborations between the public and private sectors to foster innovative design, and utilization of technology and digital inclusion are a few of the areas that are being explored to improve the quality of life for older adults in the UK. Many services targeting older adults have devolved from the central government to local authorities, and successive British governments have provided initial funding for programs to “prime the pump” and help create an enabling environment for local governments and organizations to deliver services independently.

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United Kingdom
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United Kingdom

Technological Engagement

The penetration of digital technologies in the UK’s general and older population is among the highest in Europe, and the British government continues to seek additional avenues to improve digital inclusion. Still, several studies have identified multiple barriers that continue to inhibit digital inclusion, from insufficient infrastructure to the users themselves. The government released its updated digital strategy in March of 2017, which prioritizes continued investment in digital infrastructure and promoting digital skill development, including access to free training. The government recognizes that cross-sector engagement will be necessary, and the UK Secretary of State for Culture, responsible for technology, will be establishing a forum to engage stakeholders to move the strategy forward. There is considerable economic potential that could be realized with greater digital inclusion among older adults. A recent study estimated that full digital take-up could add GBP 63 billion (approximately USD 81 billion) in value to the economy.

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United States
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United States

Technological Engagement

The U.S. is a leader in digital technology penetration, with an increase in technology utilization by older Americans who are seeking greater social connection, assistance with personal tasks, support in the workplace, and health and home care. The Internet-penetration gap in the U.S. is among the smallest within OECD countries. However, Internet access and the expansion of broadband services, particularly into rural areas, has been and continues to be critical to service delivery. Expanded coverage will be key to enabling the proliferation and penetration of assistance technologies. Senior centers and social service agencies are integrating programs and classes designed to enhance older adults’ digital competency and fluency. In some select cases, centers are exclusively dedicated to facilitating older adults’ digital technology adoption.

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United States
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United States

Community Social Infrastructure

The relatively independent nature of American culture and the tendency for older adults to live alone or with their spouse and away from their children put older adults in the U.S. particularly at risk of social isolation. Limited transportation options and the lack of affordable housing have been identified as leading issues inhibiting connectedness and social interaction. A network of public, private, and community-based service organizations are striving to provide meal delivery and a range of in-home services in an effort to meet the growing and varied needs of the older U.S. population, which is increasingly aging in place.

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United States
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United States

Productive Opportunity

Older Americans’ labor force participation rate has increased dramatically over the past several decades and is up by more than 50 percent over the period of 2000 through 2017, with participation by older women growing over 70 percent during that period. The labor force participation rate for both men and women is expected to grow further to reach 21.7 percent by 2024. The upward trend is a result of converging factors, including acute economic shocks, which adversely impacted retirement accounts, a shift toward employee-driven benefit plans, and an increasing number of older adults electing to remain in the labor force. As Americans are living longer lives and need greater economic security, a growing number are seeking to stay at or return to work.

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United States
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United States

Healthcare & Wellness

While older Americans’ lifespans have improved over the past decade, they remain below the average for high-income countries. A range of factors are contributing to America’s relatively poor and deteriorating health outcomes, including education, income, job security, food insecurity, and the social safety net. Given the high cost and growing healthcare demand, there remains an acute need for improved healthcare coverage. While federal health insurance programs for older adults do exist, they only cover a portion of costs. Demand for healthcare and long-term-care services has been increasing and is expected to rise rapidly in the coming decades. Medicaid is the only program that provides financial support for long-term care, and future funding is tenuous.

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Introduction

The world is aging at an unprecedented pace. In the coming decades, large and small, industrialized and developing countries alike, with few exceptions, will experience a rapid growth in the proportion of their populations age 65 or older, driven by longer lifespans and declining birthrates. With this looming demographic transformation, a healthier, more productive, and more engaged older population is essential to building a prosperous and sustainable future. As such, a rethinking of the role of older adults in our communities and economies is imperative. AARP and FP Analytics have partnered to conduct an in-depth study of aging policy in 12 countries to produce the Aging Readiness and Competitiveness (ARC) Report.

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Percentage of Older Population in the Total Population Over Time

  • 1950
  • 1955
  • 1960
  • 1965
  • 1970
  • 1975
  • 1980
  • 1985
  • 1990
  • 1995
  • 2000
  • 2005
  • 2010
  • 2015
  • 2020
  • 2025
  • 2030
  • 2035
  • 2040
  • 2045
  • 2050

Pillars

The ARC Report examines the pressures and opportunities each country faces, as well as their policy responses in four pillars: Community Social Infrastructure, Productive Opportunity, Technological Engagement, and Healthcare and Wellness. A particular eye is given to policy innovations aimed at engaging a healthier, more independent older population and unleashing the productive and economic potential resident among them.

Community Social Infrastructure

Community Social Infrastructure

Perhaps the most consistent feature of older adults around the world is their strong preference for aging at home. In fact, independent living is on the rise, particularly in developing countries where families are shifting away from multigenerational structures. Our first pillar looks at how countries and communities are ensuring that seniors are able to remain not only independent, but also active and contributing members of their community.

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Productive Opportunity

Productive Opportunity

Countries around the world are grappling with having to sustain long-term economic growth as their working-age population shrinks as a share of the total population. For industrialized countries, as well as China, this is already an issue, but it is only 10 to 15 years away for some of their upper middle-income counterparts. Older adults are part of the answer – they are living longer and healthier, possess valuable experience and expertise, and increasingly seek to remain active and productive. Forward-looking governments and companies are acting to enable this by introducing flexibility into retirement, combating negative perceptions of older workers, and providing targeted support for those seeking to re-enter the labor force.

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Technological Engagement

Technological Engagement

We are entering the era of digital technology and technological advancement that could be transformative for the economic and social engagement and health of older people, but today they remain the most vulnerable to digital exclusion. Still relatively small-scale in most countries, work is beginning to promote digital literacy and to develop technology-driven products and services for this market, including from the private sector, which has been driving much of its growth.

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Healthcare and Wellness

Healthcare and Wellness

Lifespans continue to extend in most countries at a faster rate than healthspans – the years when one is generally healthy and free of disease. Extending healthy living enables older adults to engage productively in their communities and economies. There are also significant economic implications of the rising need for long-term care, which can both create a fiscal burden and draw caregivers, particularly women, out of the labor force. We looked at efforts to improve accessibility, affordability, and quality of healthcare for older adults, provide support for formal and informal caregivers, and utilize new technologies to improve the efficiency and quality of care services.

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Countries

The 12 countries selected for this debut report – Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States – are the largest economies by region, with the exception of Africa, where the largest upper middle-income economy was chosen. Together, they represent 61 percent of the global economy and nearly half of people aged 65 or older, and include a diversity of economic, social, and cultural contexts.

Brazil

Brazil

Brazil only became an “aging” society in 2012, but the share of its population age 65 and older is projected to triple by 2050, driven by improved life expectancy and declining fertility rates. As Brazil’s population is still relatively young, aging has not yet become a matter of wide public interest. Over the past two elections, in 2014 and 2016, not a single major candidate for president or mayor talked specifically about older Brazilians.

Lack of attention to this looming demographic shift is clear in the government’s failure to fully implement policies that have been on the books since the 1980s to protect the rights and interests of senior citizens. However, there are positive signs in recent moves by the government, including a push to build age-friendly cities and healthcare plans oriented specifically toward older Brazilians.

The productive potential that is dormant in the older population is also under the radar of most policymakers and companies, but awareness of the economic potential of older adults is beginning to grow. This is evidenced in several recent hiring programs launched by private employers that target experienced talents. The market opportunity for digital products specifically targeting older people is also gaining traction. Private-sector interest in courting older consumers is growing, especially when it comes to digital healthcare products. The government has also played a role in developing this market by funding the development of information and communication technology products aimed at older consumers.

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Canada

Canada

In 2015, for the first time, Canadians age 65 and older outnumbered those younger than 15. Even though older adults make up a smaller share of the population in Canada than in many OECD countries, the growth of this segment has dramatically outpaced that of the general population every year since 2011, when the post-World War II baby boomers started to turn 65. By 2026, Canada is expected to become a “super-aged” society as the share of people age 65 and older will exceed 21 percent of the total population.

Coupled with the aging population is the slowing growth of Canada’s workforce, which could threaten the country’s long-term prosperity. As a result, the government has made it a priority to encourage the labor participation of all adults, including older workers, through national programs that have effectively helped with job placement for older unemployed workers. Older Canadians’ economic engagement is also being facilitated by their greater digital aptitude than that of their counterparts in many other OECD countries, partly thanks to efforts made by the federal and provincial governments, as well as community and non-profit organizations, to narrow the digital divide. Both the public and private sectors have also stepped up efforts to develop and commercialize digital products and solutions that meet the needs of older adults.

Social connection among older Canadians is strengthened by the government’s effort to advance community social and home-based care, aimed at supporting healthy, independent aging while also helping to relieve pressure on the country’s hospital system. While some longstanding national campaigns have been in place to fund community-based projects, governments have more recently strengthened financial support to family caregivers through tax credits and allowances.

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China

China

China is home to nearly a quarter of the world’s population age 60 or older, which is projected to double over the next two decades. The country is growing old before it gets rich. The fast aging of the population is coupled with simultaneous change in the family structure, as a result of one-child policy adopted in late 1970s, as well as rapidly growing urbanization and migration. These unique circumstances are driving a need for the country to enhance its social infrastructure and to develop new models to accommodate a healthy, productive, and active aging population.

The Chinese government has responded to the demographic transformation with policies to support older adults’ independent living and social engagement. With the most aged population among developing countries in this study, China is also a leader on increasing access to long-term care and improving the quality of healthcare for older adults. As the economy slows down and shifts toward a more consumption-driven growth model, the government is eagerly seeking to turn the service sector for older adults into a new growth engine and to integrate digital technologies with new products and solutions for older adults.

The government has failed to capitalize on the productive opportunity resident in the older population. Although older Chinese are relatively more active in the workforce than counterparts in industrialized countries, largely driven by financial need, they receive little government support or legal protection.

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Germany

Germany

Germany is currently one of only five “super-aged” societies in the world, and its population of those age 65 and older will continue to grow, reaching nearly one-third of the total population by 2050. In light of this demographic shift, German policymakers are working to increase labor force participation among older adults through various training and education programs as well as retirement system reforms. While labor force participation is still relatively low, Germany’s older adults have high levels of volunteerism, partly thanks to the government’s endeavors to create various opportunities for older adults to remain active in their communities.

Germany is a leader in leveraging digital technology to accommodate a healthier and more engaged older population, and the government has established programs geared toward helping older adults gain the necessary skills to use basic technologies. The country’s healthcare sector has begun to embrace e-health solutions as a part of a broader effort to improve service to the older population. Germany is also one of the few countries with mandatory long-term care (LTC) insurance. In order to address the growing need for care, the government has been working to broaden the scope and inclusivity of its LTC system, placing particular focus on improving conditions for both recipients and providers of home-based care.

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Israel

Israel

Israel stands out among high-income countries for its relatively young population. Although its population age 65 and older is projected to more than double through 2050, Israel will still have the youngest population among OECD countries, largely a result of its comparatively high fertility rate. Despite the lack of demographic pressure, Israel has been ahead of its time in terms of developing various long-standing social programs and a robust network of support for community centers and caregivers to accommodate a healthier, and more productive and engaged older population. This is partly thanks to cultural values focused on social inclusivity, as well as honoring the generations who founded and built the country.

Israel boasts high levels of labor force participation, compared with other OECD countries. The government actively engages in promoting the employment of older people and improving their employability, often in collaboration with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). For a relatively young country, Israel also stands out for its early planning to ensure access to, and comfort with, technology. In line with the “Startup Israel” ethos, tech companies are moving into the silver economy, innovating new products and services to ease access and improve well-being.

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Japan

Japan

Japan became the world’s first “super-aged” society in 2006. Today, one in four Japanese citizens is 65 or older, and their share of the population will continue to grow, holding onto the country’s position as the world’s most aged society through 2050. The country stands out most because the population is not only aging but also shrinking. A falling birth rate and nearly zero net immigration have been the major contributors to this decline. At the forefront of aging societies, Japan is also a leader in preparing the country to accommodate a healthier and more productive and engaged older population.

The Japanese government has made employment opportunities for older adults a key component of its national strategy to revitalize the economy. The government has made significant efforts to assist job placement and extend the retirement age, contributing to the high level of older-age labor force participation, although enormous potential exists to further tap this productive opportunity. The government also recognizes the demographic shift as an incentive to boost productivity through innovations like robots, not only to close the labor force gap but also to address healthcare and nursing needs of the senior population.

Japan has implemented one of the most generous long-term care systems in the world in terms of coverage and benefits available to create an environment where seniors can thrive and live autonomously. The national government and local authorities have also tapped into their existing infrastructures and institutions to tackle social isolation. Civil society organizations and senior citizens’ clubs play crucial roles in enabling active aging and community-based engagement.

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Korea

Korea

Korea is among the most rapidly aging high-income countries, and it is projected to overtake Japan to become the most aged country in the world in 2060. The fast aging of the Korean population is partly a result of the country’s two baby booms, which emerged between 1955 and 1963 and between 1968 and 1974. The aging baby boomers tend to be better educated and wealthier than previous generations, representing an enormous economic and business opportunity for the country, particularly in terms of labor participation and technology adoption.

In light of this demographic transformation, the Korean government has increased its efforts to integrate aging-related policies into its broader economic and social-development agenda. While some of these efforts have been successful, others have caused notable controversy – particularly efforts to capitalize on productive potential in the older population. Policies aimed at extending older adults’ work life have intensified inter-generational tension as well as controversy over the net impact on older adults’ well-being.

To meet growing demand for healthcare by the aging population, the government took action to reform the long-term-care insurance system in 2016, with a focus on improving administrative efficiency and service coverage of the system. It is also seeking to take advantage of the country’s advanced IT infrastructure to develop digital healthcare services and, so far, has received a positive response, particularly from large companies.

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Mexico

Mexico

Mexico is on the verge of a demographic sea change. Today, it remains a relatively young country with the second lowest percentage of people age 65 or older among countries covered in this study. However, the size of this group is projected to more than triple by 2050, largely driven by the country’s declining fertility rate. However, because older people remain a small share of the population today, the Mexican government has yet to prepare for the demographic shift and has not invested in the necessary infrastructure to support a healthy aging process.

Older Mexican adults have among the highest poverty and labor force-participation rates in the OECD, partly due to the country’s massive informal economy. Reducing labor informality has been a priority of President Peña Nieto’s administration. However, the government is not currently focused on implementing policies that would improve productive opportunity among the older-age labor force. Recognizing that aging is a looming issue, the government has begun to establish community-support infrastructure for older adults through its National Institute of Older Persons as well as long-term care infrastructure through the recently established National Institute of Geriatrics. However, the development of these initiatives is proceeding slowly, due to their low level of priority on the government’s policy agenda and a lack of resources afforded to the individual institutions.

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South Africa

South Africa

With just 5 percent of its population currently age 65 and older, South Africa is the youngest of the countries included in this study and has yet to start aging. Thanks to a consistently high fertility rate, the share of the older population is growing at a much slower pace than other upper-middle-income countries. This lack of demographic pressure has given the government little incentive to prioritize aging-related issues on its policy agenda. Instead, it is focused on broader societal challenges – including poverty, crime and racial disparity – to which older people are particularly vulnerable.

With a focus on the alleviation of old-age poverty, enabling the development of productive skills for older adults has not been a priority of the South African government. Virtually no steps have been taken to increase their labor force participation rate or to provide training programs beyond literacy. There are also very few efforts specifically targeting seniors to help them obtain the knowledge to utilize basic forms of technology. However, in 2016 the government introduced a long-term strategy to improve accessibility to basic technologies for those who historically have been unable to acquire it, including older adults. Accessibility has also been an issue for older South Africans seeking both medical and long-term care. The government is attempting to address the health-related issues experienced by the older population through a comprehensive, large-scale reform of the whole system set for implementation by 2030, which will include prioritizing older adults at the primary care level.

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Turkey

Turkey

Turkey’s 65 and older population will more than triple by 2050, aging at the second-fastest pace among OECD countries. While awareness of this demographic shift is gaining traction, it has yet to become a priority for the Turkish government, which has been grappling with other more immediate issues, including geopolitical and national security risks, economic slowdown, youth unemployment, and social stability.

The absence of aging among the government’s priorities is particularly evidenced in negligible efforts to tap productive opportunity among the older population. Although the ongoing gradual increases in pensionable age will help to boost economic participation among older adults, employment support for this group is limited. Similarly, older Turkish adults’ usage of the Internet is among the lowest in OECD, with a significant divide from the general population, and their access to training opportunities is limited.

Nevertheless, the Turkish government has acknowledged the social and economic impact of its aging population, and it is actively working to improve the social safety net and to increase community support for aging in place. Having achieved universal healthcare coverage over the past decade, the government is increasingly focused on the quality of care services. However, more work is warranted in order to accommodate a healthy aging population.

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United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Like many European countries, the UK has been an aged society for several decades, but as baby boomers are growing older, the country will see the pace of aging accelerate over the next two decades. The population of older adults is projected to grow by nearly 45 percent from 2015 through 2035, growing by 278,000 each year, almost ten times the average annual increase in the working population (15 through 64 years old).

As a result, there will be tremendous economic potential found in older people, if it can be harnessed through continued employment or other productive activity. While the UK already has higher labor participation by older adults than other major European economies, the government has been seeking new avenues to increase productive opportunities. Major efforts include fostering a more age-friendly labor market in addition and generating incentives through the pension and benefit system reforms.

Public funding cuts in recent years represent a major challenge to the UK’s long-term care system and social service delivery. While the government has made minor adjustments to tax policy, caps on local revenue generation continue to constrain the ability to fund services. Devolution of funding and service delivery to local governments also creates challenges for older adult programs and service delivery. Varying government bureaucracies and strategic priorities across the UK, from England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, also result in service fragmentation and uneven impacts of otherwise effective programs.

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United States

United States

Every day in the U.S., 10,000 people turn 65, and the number of older adults will more than double over the next several decades to top 88 million people and represent over 20 percent of the population by 2050. The rapid pace of change creates an opportunity and an imperative for both the public and private sector to harness the potential of the growing segment of society and to ensure the welfare of older Americans.

Americans’ increased longevity, coupled with the need to finance a growing share of their own care, are major factors driving older adults to delay retirement and remain in the labor force. While the U.S. labor force is expected to grow at just 0.5 percent over the next decade, adults over age 65 represent the fastest-growing segment. Recognizing this productive potential and the need to retain skilled workers and transfer institutional knowledge, companies and other employers are beginning to introduce phased-retirement and part-time work opportunities.

High and increasing costs of healthcare present significant challenges to older Americans who are increasingly aging in place. While the Americans with Disability Act has made the U.S. a leader in accessibility, the rapid pace of aging is challenging the public, private, and non-profit sectors to effectively address the social services and care needs of older adults across urban and rural areas. As leaders in innovation, corporations and start-ups are developing technologies and age-focused apps that could significantly enhance the safety, security, and well-being of older Americans increasingly aging in place.

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