Small, Innovative Economies
The inaugural 2017 ARC report established a baseline understanding of the state of global aging policies, with in-depth assessments of a group of 12 countries that are geographically, culturally, and socioeconomically diverse and that, together, represent 61 percent of the global GDP and nearly half of the world’s population of people age 65 and older. For the 2018 ARC report, we shifted our focus to 10 small economies around the world that are leading their regions in responding to demographic change.
Percentage of Population Age 65 and Over
Community Social Infrastructure
After health care improvements, the greatest momentum in aging policies and programs is found in developing a robust community social infrastructure (CSI), as societies grasp the economic imperative and enhanced well-being associated with aging in place. Thirty-six percent of experts surveyed cited CSI as the area of most significant progress in the past three to five years. CSI can be understood as the connective tissue of a society, broken down by three key elements: accessibility, engagement, and assistance. Taken together, these elements enable older adults to remain not only independent, but also active and contributing members of their community.
As the share of the conventional workforce— defined as working ages 15 to 64 according to the OECD— shrinks, tapping older people’s skills, experience, and, most importantly, desire, to remain productively engaged will be vital to the competitiveness of countries and the sustained prosperity of their citizens. However, with few exceptions, countries are failing to effectively unlock the productive potential of their older populations, focusing instead on narrow pension sector reforms. When experts surveyed for this report were asked which of the four pillars was in greatest need of improvement, productive opportunity was the most popular response, cited by 31 percent. Only eight percent, though, saw it as the strongest pillar and a mere six percent thought it showed the greatest improvement in recent years.
2018 ARC countries consistently stand out in their regions for their early and extensive investments in information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and in the digitization of their economies. The unintended consequence of this is a heightened risk of digital exclusion as governments and companies move services online.
Health Care and Wellness
While in countries like the United States providing access to affordable, high-quality health care is viewed by many as an incredibly complex challenge, among the 2018 ARC countries it is considered an area of strength and one that they’ve been able to take concrete actions to further improve. Most experts cited health care and wellness as the area in which their country is strongest, with 54 percent of respondents choosing this category. 38 percent of respondents cited health care and wellness as the category that has seen the greatest improvement over the last three to five years.