Older people count: ensuring data is fit for purpose to create a better world for all ages

Older People Count; ensuring data is fit for purpose to create a better world for all ages - High-level panel, Conference Room 11, United Nations Secretariat in New York; lunch at 12:30 pm, event 1:15 pm to 2:30 pm on Wednesday 9 September.

A high-level panel to launch HelpAge International's 2015 Global AgeWatch Index and discuss how the Sustainable Development Goals will impact on issues around ageing will take place at the United Nations Secretariat in New York today.

The event, Older People Count, ties together the launch of HelpAge International's report measuring the social and economic wellbeing of 91% of older people worldwide with the opportunities of the Sustainable Development Goals with its universal agenda to transform the world for all ages by 2030.

Keynote speakers include Amina J. Mohammed, Special Advisor of the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning, Toby Porter, Chief Executive of HelpAge International, Esther Wamera, an older leader from Kenya, Benoit Kalasa, Director Technical Division, United Nations Population Fund, Francesca Perucci, Chief of the Statistical Services Branch in the UN Statistics Division and H. E. Ambassador Rubén Ignacio Zamora Rivas, Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the United Nations. Nikhil Seth, Director of the Division for Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) will chair the event.

"The big story this year in the Index, is that millions of older people are invisible, living their lives in countries where information on the quality of older age is missing from international data sets," said Toby Porter, Chief Executive, of HelpAge International.

"The Index includes 96 countries but 98 countries had to be left out because we do not have enough information.

"Poverty rates in old age are missing from international data sets in at least 93 countries. It's particularly shocking in Africa where there was only enough data available to include 11 out of 54 countries.

"Consequently, we know more about the needs of older people in Norway and Luxembourg, two of the richest countries in the world, than we do about those in Liberia and Burundi, two of the poorest."

Against a back drop of global ageing there is a danger that wellbeing in older age is going backwards not forwards. Data shows that the gap in life expectancy at age 60 between countries at the top and bottom of the Index has widened from 5.7 years in 1990 to 7.3 years 2012. This inequality will grow without more focus on this age group and better targeted policies. Austerity measures are already affecting older people in Europe with the oldest hit hardest.

"Later this month, governments will be signing up to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, committing us to universal goals and targets until 2030," said Porter.

"Ageing has started to be recognised in the Sustainable Development Goals, following the commitment set by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.

"The Global AgeWatch Index can help show the impact that implementing the Sustainable Development Goals will have on the lives of older people but we need to fill the data gaps to complete the picture," he added.

"Improved national, regional and global data, broken down by age and gender will help us to fully understand how men and women experience ageing around the world."

Keynote speaker Amina Mohammed, commenting on the report, said: "The Global AgeWatch Index shows not only what works for older people but also highlights how much we need to do to fulfil the promise of our world. Improving data on age will help us in this task.

"Gaps on age data must be filled to know how we are doing to ensure all targets are met, and for the specifics of age and age-related targets in the goals and their targets to be responded to. The energy of the data revolution, to make sure we ‘leave no one behind', will help us," she added.

The Global AgeWatch Index shows that Switzerland is the best place for older people to live, closely followed by Norway. Apart from Japan (8) all the top 10 countries are in Western Europe and North America. Afghanistan (96) is ranked last.

The rankings are based on four key areas: income, health, personal capability and the enabling environment.

Countries that do well in the Index are thinking about ageing. They have data on older men and women and consult with them on targeted approaches that meet their needs and build on their experience and skills. These countries score highly in all four areas, have social pensions, accessible healthcare, flexible working as well as life-long learning and have created an enabling environment for all ages.

The event is sponsored by the Group of Friends of Older Persons and takes place from 1:15pm to 2:30 pm, with a lunch beginning at 12:30pm, in Conference Room 11 at the United Nations Secretariat, New York on Wednesday 9 September 2015.



Notes to Editors: RELEASE: STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01am Wednesday 9 SEPTEMBER 2015

Media Contacts: Sarah Gillam, Media Relations Manager, in London on tel: +44 (0) 20 7148 7623; mobile: + 44 (0) 7713 567 624; email: sarah.gillam@helpage.org; Skype: sarah.gillam.hai (HelpAge) or Ed Knight, Media Intern, on tel: + 44 (0) 20 7148 7606; email: edward.knight@helpage.org; Skype: edward.knight.hai.

1. Download the Global AgeWatch Index 2015, case studies, photos and infographics:


2. Available for interview: please contact Sarah Gillam, Media Relations Manager, on contacts above, if you would like to speak to either of the following spokespeople:

  • Toby Porter, Chief Executive, HelpAge International
  • Esther Wamera, older leader and activist from Kenya

3. Population ageing

The Index follows the success of:

"Ageing in the Twenty-First Century: A Celebration and A Challenge" http://www.unfpa.org/public/home/publications/pid/11584

Global AgeWatch Index 2014

4. Construction of the Index: The Index provides an overview of the quality of life experienced by older people in 96 countries. A dashboard of thirteen separate indicators has been put together under the four domains of income security, health, capability and enabling environment. Together this information measures the economic, social and political elements that interact to create a healthy environment for later life.

The Global AgeWatch Index has been created because of the overall lack of information on ageing combined with poor understanding of the effects of ageing on poverty rates, exclusion and marginalisation in services such as health care, education, training and pension provision.

HelpAge has developed the Index as a way to:

Make available international data by presenting it in a form that assists governments and policy makers to develop their own solutions to the challenges facing their growing older populations.

Highlight data gaps in terms of both countries and areas of life relevant to the wellbeing of older people.
Broaden policy makers' understanding of the conditions of older people to help us realise the multidimensional nature of later life.

Provide countries with a baseline from which to measure future progress and to learn from one another. The Index is a long-term project to be updated with an annual ‘age' report.

The main target audiences include governments, policy makers, UN agencies, development agencies, civil society networks and coalitions, older people and the general public.

5. Stories: HelpAge can develop stories, provide case studies and organise media visits to undertake feature stories relating to the Index. Please contact Media Manager, Sarah Gillam - details at the bottom.

6. Global Age Watch Index ranking table

Switzerland (1) Norway (2) Sweden (3) Germany (4) Canada (5) Netherlands (6) Iceland (7) Japan (8) United States (9) United Kingdom (10) Denmark (11) New Zealand (12) Austria (13) Finland (14) Ireland (15) France (16) Australia (17) Israel (18) Luxembourg (19) Panama (20) Chile (21) Czech Republic (22) Estonia (23) Belgium (24) Spain (25) Slovenia (26) Uruguay (27) Costa Rica (28) Georgia (29) Cyprus (30) Argentina (31) Poland (32) Mexico (33) Thailand (34) Latvia (35) Columbia (36) Italy (37) Portugal (38) Hungary (39) Slovakia (40) Vietnam (41) Mauritius (42) Armenia (43) Ecuador (44) Romania (45) Sri Lanka (46) Malta (47) Peru (48) Bulgaria (49) Philippines (50) Kyrgyzstan (51) China (52) Albania (53) El Salvador (54) Bolivia, Plurinational State of (55) Brazil (56) Nicaragua (57) Tajikistan (58) Guatemala (59) Korea, Republic of (60) Croatia (61) Dominican Republic (62) Lithuania (63) Belarus (64) Russian Federation (65) Serbia (66) Bangladesh (67) Montenegro (68) Paraguay (69) Nepal (70) India (71) Mongolia (72) Ukraine (73) Indonesia (74) Turkey (75) Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of (76) Moldova, Republic of (77) South Africa (78) Greece (79) Cambodia (80) Ghana (81) Honduras (82) Lao People's Democratic Republic (83) Morocco (84) Jordan (85) Nigeria (86) Iraq (87) Uganda (88) Rwanda (89) Zambia (90) Tanzania, United Republic of (91) Pakistan (92) West Bank & Gaza (93) Mozambique (94) Malawi (95) Afghanistan (96)

HelpAge International helps older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives.


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