On the day that Nigeria celebrated its 53rd anniversary as an independent nation, a new study released today by the UN backed Help Age International advocacy group ranked Nigeria among the worst countries in the world that least care about their old population.
The Global AgeWatch Index ranked 91 countries, with Nigeria ranked 85th, the sixth worst, with a poor record of catering for the well-being of the elderly, people older than 60.
Though Nigeria has the highest GDP among the African Index countries, it ranks third lowest for income security, the report said.
"This reflects its limited pension coverage, at 5 per cent. It ranks 84th in the health domain and, with Rwanda, has the lowest life expectancy at age 60 – 16 years.
"For employment and education, Nigeria ranks 70 with the fourth highest proportion of older people, 17.4%, with secondary or higher education among its African Index counterparts.
"Nigeria ranks second lowest regionally, at 76, in the enabling environment domain, with only 53% of older Nigerians enjoying civic freedom.
The report indicated that older Nigerians are taking part in the Age Demands Action campaign for the first time this year.
In contrast, Sweden offers the best environment to grow old. Expectedly, Afghanistan is the worst – but general affluence does not necessarily mean better conditions for the over-60s, reports the London Guardian.
While Sweden's top ranking – followed by Norway, Germany, the Netherlands and Canada – may be predictable, the Global AgeWatch index throws up some surprising results.
The US, the world's richest country, languishes in eighth place, while the UK fails to make the top 10, residing instead at No 13. Sri Lanka ranks 36, well above Pakistan at 89, despite similar levels of gross domestic product (GDP). Bolivia and Mauritius score higher than the size of their economies may suggest, while the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China are a mixed bag. Brazil and China rank relatively high on the index; India and Russia sit much lower.
The ageing index is calculated using 13 indicators under four headings: income security, healthcare, employment and education, and an enabling environment. All indicators have equal weight, except for pension income coverage, life expectancy at 60, healthy life expectancy at 60, and psychological wellbeing. These categories were given increased weighting because of better data quality, and countries were included only if there was sufficient data.
The best and worst countries to grow old: the UN rankings
The index was compiled by the HelpAge International advocacy group and funded by the UN Population Fund
7. New Zealand
Britain came in at 13, ahead of Australia (14) and France (18).
Lower down in the rankings were the emerging economies of Brazil (31), China (35), South Africa (65), India (73) and Russia (78).
84. West Bank and Gaza