EghtesadOnline: With a value score of 43.1, Iran is ranked 64th among 97 countries on the AgeWatch Index measured by Saba Pension Strategies Institute, an affiliate of the Civil Servants Pension Organization.
The report is fashioned after the 2015 Global AgeWatch Index that assesses factors determining the social and economic wellbeing of older people.
Global AgeWatch Index was launched in 2013 and published annually until 2015. It has been a popular and effective advocacy tool, highlighting key data gaps on aging and older people at the global level.
The index measures four key domains for older people, covering the most crucial aspects of their wellbeing, experience and opportunities. These are income security, health status, capability and the enabling environment, which factors are necessary for older people to be able to function independently.
Each domain has a value score and the average is used to calculate the final ranking.
The Iranian version of the index has been calculated using the most relevant and recent data from the Civil Servants Pension Organization, the Statistical Center of Iran, Health Ministry, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and the municipalities.
Income security is measured by pension coverage, poverty rate in old age, the relative welfare of older people and living standards using GNI per capita as a proxy.
Pension systems can play a central role in helping reduce poverty and inequality, and can enable families and communities to adapt to the changing nature of social and economic life in old age.
While virtually all countries have some form of pension system, coverage is often limited, especially in low- and middle-income countries where just one in four people over 65 receives a pension.
Pension coverage in Iran stands at 45.5%, suggesting that less than half of older people receive pension. The country’s poverty rate in old age is 24.98%, indicating that almost one-fourth of people older than 60 live in relative poverty whereas close to 13% of the non-elderly in Iran live in relative poverty. The elderly suffer from poverty twice as much as other age groups.
Within the elderly group, old women are more susceptible to poverty; around 40% of old women compared with 20% of old men live near the poverty line. Living standards of the elderly in Iran is 5.3% lower than of other age groups.
Health status is measured by three indicators: life expectancy at 60, healthy life expectancy at 60 and psychological wellbeing. Good physical and mental health is critical to social and economic engagement of older people.
Although life expectancy at 60 is increasing, there are barriers to healthcare for older people in every region of the world, including age discrimination, difficulty in gaining physical access to health facilities, a lack of awareness of older people’s health conditions and poor availability of health and social care services.
Iran’s life expectancy at 60 is 20.8 years, suggesting that a 60-year-old Iranian is expected to live for another 20.8 years.
Healthy life expectancy—the expected number of remaining years of life spent in good health from 60—is 15.9 years. Psychological wellbeing which consists of positive relationships with others, personal mastery, autonomy, a feeling of purpose and meaning in life, and personal growth and development is 99.22% in Iran.
Capability is measured by employment levels and educational status of older people, as proxies for engagement and human capital in older age.
The employment rate of people of ages 55 to 64 indicates their access to the labor market, conferring choice and purpose, supporting social relationships and bringing in income.
The educational level indicates capacity to take up job opportunities and the ability to claim social and economic rights.
In Iran, 33.8% of older people work; the educational status of older people (percentage of the elderly who have completed middle school and higher levels) is 23.9%.
Enabling environment is measured by access to public transport, physical safety, social connections and civic freedom. These indicators capture the enabling attributes of the communities in which older people live.
Focus groups of older people in 36 countries prioritized these indicators, determining their level of engagement within the community, freedom of movement, autonomy and choice of living arrangements.
Older people need to feel part of society, be able to get about on public transport, feel safe and live an independent and autonomous life. The percentage of satisfaction with the public transport for the elderly is 72.1%; physical safety 70.5%; civic freedom 66.4% and social connections indicator is 57.3% in Iran.
When compared with other 96 countries, Iran ranked 65th in income security, 43rd in health status, 88th in capability and 49th in enabling environment domain.
Scores of Iranian provinces for income security range from four in Sistan-Baluchestan to 86 in Tehran. Health status scores of the elderly were the lowest in South Khorasan (10) and highest (90) in Tehran. Capability score was the lowest in Ilam with 13 and the highest with 48 in Tehran. And finally, in enabling environment domain, the scores ranged from 58 in Khuzestan and Kermanshah to 80 in Semnan.
Out of 31 Iranian provinces, Sistan-Baluchestan and Tehran scored the highest on agewatch index with 6.5 and 77.9, respectively.
According to the 2015 Global AgeWatch Index, Switzerland was at the top, while Afghanistan remains at the bottom of agewatch index.
As in 2013 and 2014, the top 19 places were occupied by industrialized nations. Africa was overrepresented at the bottom, with countries from the region occupying seven of the 10 lowest places.
The other lowest scorers all shared a background of conflict (West Bank and Gaza, Pakistan and Afghanistan), which negatively impacted on nearly every indicator in the index.
With nearly 24% of its population over 60, Switzerland has a range of policies and programs on active aging, promoting capability, health and the enabling environment for older people.
At the other end of the scale, Afghanistan, with 4% of its population that are 60 years and older, has few local or national policies to promote the wellbeing of older people.
Between these extremes, countries perform best when they take a comprehensive approach by investing in pensions, boost access to healthcare and support the social inclusion of older people.