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Golden Age index

How well are the OECD economies harnessing the power of an older workforce?

In our 2018 update, we explore the potential $3.5 trillion prize from longer working lives

Top 3 performers on PwC's Golden Age index


This year's update of the Golden Age Index shows that the OECD has continued its gradual progress towards greater engagement of older people in the workforce. Iceland, New Zealand, Israel, Estonia and Sweden continue to lead the OECD, taking top positions on the index.

We explore the potential boost to OECD GDP from raising employment rates of older workers to New Zealand levels, finding that the OECD could experience a long-term gain of around $3.5 trillion and the UK around £180 billion.

View the key findings for highlights from our research and explore the results further using our interactive data tool. We provide more detailed analysis and commentary in the full report, which you can download below. 

Key findings

Our Golden Age Index is a weighted average of seven indicators which reflect the labour market impact of workers aged over 55 in OECD countries, including employment, earnings and training. The key findings from our 2018 report are as follows:

  • Iceland, New Zealand, Israel, Estonia and Sweden take the top five spots, with many of the Nordic countries also performing well on the index.
  • Germany, Israel and New Zealand have achieved the most significant improvements in the rankings from 2003.
  • The UK maintains a middling position on the index, falling one place to 21st position this year, although the UK's absolute performance has continued to improve 
  • There is a large regional disparity in the employment rates of older workers across the UK, ranging from around 63% in Northern Ireland to almost 75% in the South East. 
  • The OECD could achieve a $3.5 trillion boost to GDP in the long-term if countries raised their employment rates of those aged over 55 to match New Zealand levels. For the UK, the potential gain could be around £182 billion.
  • Key drivers of employment of older workers are public pension policies, life expectancy and caring responsibilities. Successful policy measures include increasing retirement age, supporting flexible working, improving the flexibility of pensions and further training and support for older workers to become 'digital adopters'.
  • Automation poses both potential opportunities and challenges for older workers. AI technology can boost economic growth, generate more labour demand and support longer working lives (e.g. through use of digital platforms that allow older workers to market their skills more widely). But it could also require some older workers to retrain for new careers later in life, as well as to acquire additional digital skills in current careers.


Explore the data

Click on a country below to see how it ranks against key indicators and how its performance has changed over time.

Explore by selecting a country
Golden Age index score relative to OECD average
OECD Average
% of people
aged 55-64 in
% (2017 data)
Gap with New Zealand
* Excluded from analysis as employment rate is above New Zealand's rate
Percentage points
GDP impact of increasing 55+ employment rates to New Zealand levels
% of GDP
USD billions
% of people
aged 65+ in employment
% (2016 data)
Golden Age index ranking
Source: PwC analysis of OECD data

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