Japan Takes Care of Its Elderly More Than Any Other Asian Country, Study Finds


As Japan’s high life expectancy contributes to its rapidly aging population, the government has reportedly been making sure that its elders are looked after better than its Asian neighbors.

Based on the 2015 Global AgeWatch Index figures, Japan ranks first in Asia for reporting high satisfaction with social connectedness, safety, and civic freedom for older people. Japan was the only Asian country that made it among the world’s top ten countries favorable for the aged, placing at number eight.

“It ranks first on the index in the health domain, with the highest values for health expectancy at 60 (26 years) and healthy life expectancy at 60 (20.3 years) in its region,” stated the report. “The country ranks high in the capability domain, with above regional average values on all indicators. It ranks high in the enabling environment domain (21), with above regional average values on three out of four indicators: social connectedness (89%), safety (76%) and civic freedom (78%).”

Seeking to determine the best places for older adults to live, HelpAge International covered 96 countries, which represents over 90% of the world’s population age 60 and above. The group used factors such as income security, health, personal capability, and enabling environment for people age 60 and older to measure quality of life.

To ensure a suitable environment for its aging population, the country should have effective nursing homes, home helpers, welfare schemes, benefits, universal health insurance and social pensions for the elderly.

Thailand, comes in second among Asian countries and 34th overall, after recently revising and upgrading its policies on aging, patterned after the Madrid Plan of Action for Aging.

It was followed by Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Philippines, and China, which globally ranked 41st, 46th, 50th, and 52nd respectively on the list.

China, which currently has the largest population of older people in the world at 209 million people, recently established National Commission on Aging to address the growing older population in the country. Pension coverage in China increased to 75%, while health insurance coverage is reportedly at 90%.

Following China is South Korea, which was globally ranked 60th. Meanwhile, Bangladesh, Nepal and India were ranked 67th, 70th and 71st, respectively.

India rated low particularly in income security domain as the pension coverage in the country is only at 28%.

In order to care for its elderly, the report suggests India must soon revise its policies on its aging population. It was projected the number of old people in India is set to grow threefold from 100 million to 300 million by 2050, according to the report.

Mongolia, Indonesia, and Cambodia were way behind the rankings, taking the 72nd, 74th, and the 80th spot, respectively. Laos, which ranked very poorly at the 83th place, has a lot to improve to be able to care for its elderly, according to the index.

HelpAge International, a global NGO that helps older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination, and overcome poverty, has offices in London and Brussels and nine regional centers around the world.