How good is Germany for the elderly?

The Local Germany
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How good is Germany for the elderly?
Photo: DPA

A study comparing quality of life for older people around the world has ranked Germany 5th out of 96 countries. How good a place is Germany for the elderly?


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Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Canada all came above Germany which placed fifth in the Global AgeWatch analysis by charity HelpAge International.

The study divided quality of life into assessments of income security, health, capability and environment.

Germany, where 27.5 percent of the population is over 60, performed best on the capability test, which measured employment prospects and educational attainment.

With 61.5 percent of people aged 55-64 in employment, the country is six percent ahead of the regional average for Europe, while almost 90 percent of over-60s have a secondary or better education.

One in ten poor

Pension reforms in 2001 and 2004 were blamed for Germany's performance on the financial indicator, which was its lowest score at 15th worldwide.

Despite being the first country to introduce a public pension system under Chancellor Otto von Bismarck in 1889, Germany does not have a minimum pension.

The amount you receive is dependent on how much you've paid into the system over your working life.

This means that although all over-65s receive a pension, over-60s' income is 13 percent lower than the national average while almost 10 percent of over-60s are below the poverty line.

Long lives

Germany was 11th in the health category, with high life expectancy of 85 for women and 82 for men, according to the report.

The study highlighted the importance of the care system at a time when it has come in for criticism over abuse cases, financial sustainability and the treatment of people with dementia and other cognitive problems.

By the end of 2011, almost 2.5 million people were dependent on care, including 58% of over-90s.

Germany was also 11th in the environment category, which measured older people's social connections, safety, freedom and mobility.

With 90 percent of people over 50 saying they had friends or relatives they could count on in an emergency, the country was well above average, and people largely felt safe, free to make their own choices and satisfied with the public transport system in their area.

Old and foreign

Germany is also a popular place for foreigners to retire to.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, Germany had a total of 767,841 non-German over-65s in 2013.

Most foreign seniors come from EU member states with Italy, Greece and Croatia at the top.

North American over-65s totalled 17,192, of which 15,432 came from the United States. The United Kingdom's total was 14,489.


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