New global aging index gauges health and wellbeing of aging populations

The five countries in the index coping best with their aging populations are: Norway, Sweden, the United States, the Netherlands and Japan. Credit: John A. Hartford Foundation Index of Societal Aging

Researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and University of Southern California Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics, with the support of The John A. Hartford Foundation, have developed a new barometer that estimates how countries are adapting to the dramatic increases in the number and proportion of older persons. The Index is composed of specific measures across five social and economic Indicators that reflect the status and wellbeing of older persons in a country and which can be followed over time and used to compare across nations.

“Now that previously unimagined numbers of are living longer it is critical that we shift from our prior sole focus on the characteristics of individuals and their immediate environments to one that includes a strategy for the entire society to successfully adapt to an aging population” said John Rowe, MD, Julius B. Richmond Professor of Health Policy and Aging, Health Policy and Management at the Mailman School of Public Health, who led the interdisciplinary team of researchers.

Developed for 30 countries at the outset, the Index can track national sources of data for countries with aged populations including the United States and Western Europe. A sample analysis of the data shows that the five countries in the coping best with their aging populations are: Norway, Sweden, the United States, the Netherlands and Japan. (See chart)

“Interestingly, the Index demonstrates that the United States – despite general problems with inequity and social cohesion -…

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