18 September 2019

Australia, Melbourne

Australia has ranked second in a world-first study measuring the resilience of 20 major global economies to threats posed by ageing and workplace automation.

The Ageing and Automation Resilience Index compiled by Mercer and Marsh & McLennan Insights analysed mitigating factors a country has in place to combat ageing and job automation among older workers, measuring older worker labor force participation, level of pension fund assets, socio-economic conditions, and policy and legal conditions, as well as the strength of the local retirement system.

Denmark (1) topped the list, with South Korea (20) ranking last. Japan (17), China (18) and Italy (19) were also among the least resilient countries. Australia (2) was closely followed by Sweden (3), Canada (4) and Finland (5).

Globally, governments and organisations are experiencing a time of significant disruption. Technological advancements are increasingly putting low-skilled routine jobs at risk of automation – jobs that older workers aged 50 and over are often employed in. 

At the same time, populations around the world are ageing, with elderly populations growing and working-age populations shrinking.

While Australia’s labor force participation rates among older workers are lower than those in Asia, Australia’s pension fund assets as a percentage of GDP sits at 120.4 per cent against an average 51.9 per cent. China’s pension fund assets as a percentage of GDP is just 1.5 per cent.

Report co-author and Mercer Senior Partner Dr David Knox said it was imperative for countries to understand their resilience to ageing and automation.

“With life expectancy increasing, most individuals need to work longer to ensure they are better placed for their retirement years. But, they’re faced with the challenges of ageism in the workplace and risk of losing their jobs to automation, endangering their ability to finance their longevity,” Dr Knox said.

“The threat of societal ageing and workplace automation to governments, communities and employers cannot be overestimated. From pension funds to social welfare, job security and healthcare, a country’s systems and structures across the board will be under pressure if risks are not properly assessed and mitigated.

“Despite Australia’s high ranking, we are not immune to these risks. While comparatively we have the lowest percentage of tasks done by older workers that can be automated, at 42 per cent, we still have a mid to high level of risk of automation to older workers. 

“In other countries, older workers are at disproportionately higher risk than younger workers to automation. This, however, isn’t the case in Australia. We have higher proportions of older workers in jobs that are less likely to be automated, such as management, healthcare, and teaching”.




Ageing and Automation Resilience Index

1.   Denmark

2.   Australia

3.   Sweden

4.   Canada

5.   Finland

6.   Ireland

7.   Netherlands

8.   USA

9.   Germany

10.  UK

11.  France

12.  Switzerland

13.  Singapore

14.  Austria

15.  Chile

16.  Mexico

17.  Japan

18.  China

19.  Italy

20. South Korea


About Mercer

Mercer delivers advice and technology-driven solutions that help organisations meet the health, wealth and career needs of a changing workforce. Across the Pacific, organisations look to Mercer for global insights, thought leadership and product innovation to help transform and grow their businesses.

Mercer’s more than 25,000 employees are based in 44 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a business of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), the world’s leading professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people with 76,000 colleagues and annualized revenue approaching $17 billion. Through its market-leading businesses including MarshGuy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman, Marsh & McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. For more information, visit