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AgeWatch report card


South Africa

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domain value

Enabling environments

Income security

Health status



Life expectancy at 60

How many more years can a 60-year-old expect to live


Healthy life expectancy aged 60

The average number of years a person can expect to live in good health.


Pension coverage

% people over 65 receiving a pension

National policy on ageing?


4.2 million people over 60







% of population over 60

South Africa ranks low at 78 overall. It ranks highest in the income security domain (19), with high pension coverage (92.6%), a below average poverty rate (12%) and the second highest GNI per capita (US$11,764) regionally.

It still ranks low in the capability domain (69) but this ranking has increased from last year (75) is due a revision of educational attainment data.

South Africa ranks low in the enabling environment domain (83) due to older people's low satisfaction  with safety (31%). It ranks lowest in the health domain (89), with life expectancy at 60 (16) which is below the regional average of 17.

In October the Age Demands Action campaign is taking place in South Africa.

Quick link to further information

Rank by domain

Indicators data What does this mean?
Pension coverage: 92.6 % people over 65 receiving a pension.
Old age poverty rate: 12.2 % of people aged 60+ with an income of less than half the country's median income.
Relative welfare: n/a Average income/consumption of people aged 60+ as a % of average income/consumption of the rest of the population.
GNI per capita: US$ 11,764.1 This is a proxy for standard of living of people within a country. It aims to provide comparison across countries.
Indicators data What does this mean?
Life expectancy at 60: 16 The average number of years a person aged 60 can expect to live.
Healthy life expectancy at 60:14.6 The average number of years a person aged 60 can expect to live in good health.
Relative psychological/mental wellbeing:97.9 % of people over 50 who feel their life has meaning compared with people aged 35-49 who feel the same.
The indicator measures self-assessed mental well-being.
Indicators data What does this mean?
Employment of older people: 39.2 % of the population aged 55-64 that are employed.
The indicator measures older people's access to the labour market and their ability to supplement pension income with wages, and their access to work related networks. The employment rate is a proxy for the economic empowerment of older people.
Educational attainment:47.2 % of population aged 60+ with secondary or higher education.
Education is a proxy of lifetime accumulation of skills and competencies that shows social and human capital potential inherent among older people.
Indicators data What does this mean?
Social connections: 83 % of people over 50 who have relatives or friends they can count on when in trouble.
Physical safety: 31 % of people over 50 who feel safe walking alone at night in the city or area where they live.
Civic freedom: 66 % of people over 50 who are satisfied with the freedom of choice in their life.
Access to public transport: 54 % of people over 50 who are satisfied with the local public transportation systems.

Social pension

Social pensions are non-contributory cash transfers to older people, provided by government. For more information see

Age-In-Action (HelpAge Affiliate).

Muthande Society for the Aged (HelpAge Affiliate).

HelpAge activity in South Africa

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Comments submitted for this page

  • Brian Watt (09 September 2015)

    Costs of securing personal safety and the costs of medication are rising at a far greater rate than the pension increase percentage thus the purchasing power of the pension is being rapidly eroded due to the medicine and safety costs.

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