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New Zealand '10th best country to grow old in'

New research ranks New Zealand the 10th best country in the world to grow old in, placing us above both Australia and the UK.

New Zealand is the tenth best country to live for those over 60 according to a global age-watch survey. Source: 1 NEWS

The Global AgeWatch Index 2014 ranks 96 countries according to the social and economic wellbeing of older people. It represents over 90% of people aged 60-plus across the world.

The report, carried out by researchers at Help Age International and the University of Southampton, makes international comparison in four areas - income security, health status, 'personal capability', and 'enabling social environment'.

Dr Sally Keeling, Senior Lecturer at the University of Otago, Christchurch, says New Zealand can stand tall on the basis of its overall 10th ranking, but a closer look at the variation across these areas shows where future development is essential.

For example, New Zealand is ranked 9th in health status, which conceals significant health inequalities and shorter life expectancies for Maori and Pacific people, she says.

New Zealand's ranking on personal capability of the elderly is even higher, at 6th in the world, which reflects our historical high standards of compulsory education, alongside early rejection of compulsory retirement, Dr Keeling says.

New Zealand gets a low scoring on income security for the elderly, at 27th in the world, even though recent New Zealand data shows high rates of workforce participation in the over-65 age group.

The lowest ranking for New Zealand is in 'enabling environment', the report signalling change is needed in civic and social participation, supported by good access to public transport, and a focus on physical safety.

New Zealand ranks just under Australia in terms of health status, but above the UK.