The results of the Active Ageing Index (AAI), commissioned by the United Nations and the European Commission, shows that the elderly in Estonia are more educated and participate in paid employment more than many of their European peers, but they have much lower incomes and lack social security.
Estonia ranks 10th across 28 EU countries in the index, which is, unsurprisingly, topped by Sweden, Denmark, and Netherlands. On the opposite end we find Greece, Poland and Slovakia.
Estonia has the second highest employment rate of the elderly in the EU, behind Sweden and ahead of Denmark. It is also the only country where the employment rate is higher for women. Or at least was in 2012, on which year’s data the index relies.
However, Estonia lags behind in terms of participation in society – fourth from the bottom, alongside other eastern European countries. The participation rate is greatest in Ireland and Italy, worst in Poland.
Estonia also does only marginally better in capacity and enabling environment for active ageing – placing two ranks higher – in a category that measures mental well-being, ICT skills, social connectedness and educational attainment, among other things.
In terms of independent, healthy and secure living, Estonia is no match to the Scandinavian countries either. With a score of 67.3, Estonia is on par with Portugal.
The results are not very different from those of the SHARE study, published last week. Estonia’s relatively good position in the index relies on the fact that many elderly remain active in the labor market even after reaching the retirement age. Reelika Leetmaa from the Praxis Center of Policy Studies said that, according to a study from 2012, 80 percent cited financial reasons as the key motivator behind this trend.
“By 2040, almost half of the population, and half of the labor force, will be 50 years or over,” said Jane Matt, also from Praxis. “So these issues need to be dealt with promptly.”
AAI measures the untapped potential of older people for active and healthy ageing across countries. It addition to measuring the actual experiences of active ageing – the level to which older people live independent lives, participate in paid employment and social activities, it also determines their capacity to actively age. The index takes into account 22 different factors, divided between four categories.