The world is ageing fast. By 2030, there will be more people over 60 than under 10. Already there are more adults over 60 than children under 5.
The Global AgeWatch Index has been developed and constructed by HelpAge International from international data sets drawn from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the World Bank, World Health Organization, International Labour Organization, UNESCO and the Gallup World Poll.
The Index has benefited from a global advisory panel of more than 40 independent experts in ageing, health, social protection and human development. The Friends of Global AgeWatch Index group, chaired by Sir Richard Jolly, continue to provide support and guidance on its development.
Data is needed for informed debate on ageing. Policy makers broadly agree that we can and should do better in measuring social and economic progress as a means to promote improvements.
The result has been the emergence of a number of different indexes providing evidence that is useful for policy makers. However, none of the existing indexes provides a global picture of how well countries are doing to support the wellbeing of their ageing populations.
For the first time the Global AgeWatch Index makes international comparisons of quality of life in older age possible. The Index is a tool to measure progress and aims to improve the impact of policy and practice on ageing populations.
The Index brings together a unique set of internationally comparable data based on older people's income status, health status, capability (education and employment), and enabling environment. These domains have been selected because they were identified by older people and policy makers alike as key enablers of older people's wellbeing.
The Index contributes to Ban Ki-moon's call for a "data revolution" to ensure no one is left behind in the post-2015 development framework. If this is to be achieved older populations must be included among those who are counted.
Currently the shortage of data on older people is systematically excluding them from development plans and public policy provision.
It has been possible to include only 96 countries at this stage because of current data limitations. However, these 96 countries include 91% of the world's population aged 60 and over. The aim is both to monitor progress and steadily extend the Index to include all countries.
The aim of the Index is both to capture the multidimensional nature of the quality of life and wellbeing of older people, and to provide a means by which to measure performance and promote improvements.
We have chosen 13 different indicators for the four key domains of Income security, Health status, Capability, and Enabling environment.
Domain 1: Income security
The income security domain assesses people's access to a sufficient amount of income, and the capacity to use it independently, in order to meet basic needs in older age.
Domain 2: Health status
The three indicators used for the health domain provide information about physical and psychological wellbeing.
Domain 3: Capability
The employment and education indicators in this domain look at different aspects of the empowerment of older people.
Domain 4: Enabling environment
This domain uses data from Gallup World View to assess older people's perception of social connectedness, safety, civic freedom and access to public transport - issues older people have singled out as particularly important.