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Active and healthy ageing an increasing reality, according to 2015 AAI Analytical Report

Ranking of 28 EU Member States on the basis of the 2014 overall AAI (click to enlarge)

In April 2015 an International Seminar, 'Building an evidence base for active ageing policies: the Active Ageing Index and its potential' took place in Brussels.

An analytical report was launched at the seminar, providing an analysis of the progress made in the period 2008 to 2012, as well as the remaining opportunities for improvement, in the four areas of active ageing – employment, social participation, independent living and capacity for active ageing – across 28 countries of the European Union.

Overall, the message of the analytical report is a positive one: on average, the national-level values of the Active Ageing Index (AAI) have increased during the period studied, in spite of the economic pressures faced across the region and the resulting austerity measures. The average increase across the EU was 2 points (relative to a ‘goalpost’ value of 57.5 points), and nine countries saw an increase of three or more points over the period examined. Gains have been greatest in the more affluent countries in the northern and western parts of the region, and the ranking of countries has remained largely unchanged. The small but widespread gains are closely correlated with increases in overall life satisfaction and in per capita GDP, suggesting that active ageing goes hand-in-hand with both personal and societal well-being.

Nevertheless, the analysis underlines the fact that every country analysed has room for improvement. Indeed, what makes the AAI such a valuable tool is its ability to pinpoint the specific areas where attention could be focused to make further gains. Denmark, for example – which is ranked second overall among the 28 countries analysed, and which takes first, second and third place in the domains of independent living, capacity for active ageing and employment, respectively – reaches only tenth place when it comes to participation of older persons in society. This four-domain composition of the index, based on 22 constituent indicators, reflects the multi-faceted nature of ageing in contemporary societies, and it is hoped that the analysis will facilitate countries in learning from one-another’s experiences.

As well as highlighting the relative success, progress and room for further advancement in different domains, the index is a useful tool for examining the differences in outcomes between women and men. In general, values of the AAI are higher for men than for women, and this is especially true in the areas of employment and financial security. A narrowing of these gender gaps will require both time and policy changes to improve gender equity.

The analytical report shows how the AAI can serve as an instrument for suggesting innovative policies to further countries’ efforts at fostering active and healthy ageing. While it is impossible at this stage to prove how far any given changes are the result of any specific policy or programme, continued inter- and intra-national research will be able to investigate such questions more concretely.

Future plans for the development and use of the AAI include extending its use to a broader variety of countries, and investigating the potential for its use in subnational analysis (tasks which are both already underway, as seen in the geographical scope covered by papers given at the April 2015 international seminar).

For more information about the Active Ageing Index please visit the AAI wiki.