A news report by the European Commission highlights the fact that active ageing is not just about staying longer in employment and retiring later. It is also about social participation, providing care within the family, volunteering in the community, and it is about being in good health and being able to live independently.

The active aging index (AAI), constructed from 22 individual indicators that are grouped into four distinct domains that each present a different aspect of measuring the untapped potential of older people for active and healthy ageing, shows a relationship between the domains participation in society and capacity and enabling environment for- active ageing: “Figure 4.9 plots the relationship between the indices for the participation in society domain and the capacity and enabling environment for active ageing domain. There is high correlation between these two indices (r=0.79) which show that the active ageing capacity as captured by indicators of the 4th domain (such as healthy life expectancy, mental well-being, social connections, etc.) are strong associates of social participation outcomes for older populations across EU countries.”

The two countries that stand out is this domain are Ireland and Italy – two countries that implemented the ILO Manual on Voluntary Work – which might well be proof that having the right statistical tools in place can indeed show the positive impacts of the third sector.