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Journal Article

Measuring active and healthy ageing in Europe


Publication date

May 2017


The active and healthy ageing measure reported here is calculated for the 28 European Union countries, with a specific focus on the current generation of older people and by using the latest data from multiple surveys. It covers diverse aspects of active and healthy ageing, by measuring older people’s contribution with respect to not just employment but also their unpaid familial, social and cultural contributions and their independent, healthy and secure living. The article presents the first-of-its-kind quantitative measure of active and healthy ageing in the literature on active and healthy ageing which hitherto has focused largely on concepts, definitions and public policy strategies. In this pursuit, an important contribution of this measure, referred to as the Active Ageing Index (‘AAI’), is that it also captures how countries differ with respect to capacity and enabling environments for active and healthy ageing. The AAI offers a breakdown not just by four domains of active and healthy ageing but also by gender. Key findings are that Sweden comes at the top of the country ranking, followed closely by Denmark, the United Kingdom, Finland, the Netherlands and Ireland. The four southern European countries (Italy, Portugal, Spain and Malta) are middle-ranked countries. Greece and many of the Central European countries are at the bottom, highlighting much greater untapped potentials of active and healthy ageing among older people in these countries and a need for greater policy efforts. Women fare worse than men in most countries, identifying a need for an emphasis on reducing gender disparity in experiences of active and healthy ageing. The AAI tool developed has the potential to identify the social policy mechanisms behind the differential achievements of active and healthy ageing, for example, what active and healthy ageing strategies have driven top performers, and in what respect the bottom-ranked countries have lagged behind.

Published in

Journal of European Social Policy

Volume and page numbers

27 , 138 -157





Older People, Well Being, Health, and Social Policy


University of Essex, Albert Sloman Library Periodicals *restricted to University of Essex registered users* -


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