Countries across the globe differ in their approach to retirement and older age. There is often a dichotomy between embracing tradition and implementing real change in attitudes with aging populations around the world. How, therefore, are countries other than the UK approaching retirement as a concept and introducing policies that will create change for the better?
Sweden leads the way
In a recent UN report, Sweden was ranked first for its treatment of the elderly. Like the rest of the world, Sweden’s ageing population has grown, and life expectancy there is now one of the highest in the world. The country has recently introduced new measures which mean most care for the elderly is now state-funded, with an investment of SEK 4.3 billion (GBP £411 million) in this policy.
What’s more, preventative healthcare measures have meant that individuals are staying physically and mentally active for longer, allowing retirees a many more years of independence and good health. Boasting one of the best healthcare systems in the world, it’s not hard to see why Sweden comes out top for the care of those entering retirement.
How other cultures approach retirement
Alternatively, in many Eastern cultures, caring for older generations is considered an honourable duty for younger family members. However, with increasing influence from the West, growing economies, and rapid industrialization, some countries are seeing a shift in this long-established tradition.
For instance, many of China’s young are now flocking to the cities in search of work, as opposed to remaining at home. China has attempted to combat this by passing its “Elderly Rights Law” which dictates that younger generations should visit their aging parents “often”, no matter how far away they live.
Meanwhile, in yet another different approach to retirement and the aging population, many Japanese companies are looking to employ elderly workers to work alongside or instead of the younger workforce. This project, coupled with a healthy lifestyle and excellent healthcare facilities, means that the older generation in Japan are able (and perhaps more willing because of this) to work for longer; awarding a newfound sense of purpose to those entering old age.
Questioning the meaning of retirement
From these few examples we can see that questions around the meaning of retirement are mounting, especially as aging populations increase and cultural shifts emerge. Whatever we can learn from them, it seems clear that the older generation are increasingly at the forefront of people’s consciousness, and a key consideration of governments across the globe.
With this in mind the older generation can and will continue to make an active and valuable contribution to society, whilst being able to maintain their independence for longer.