It is seen that an idealized model may suggest an appropriate scaling of the water age in the World Ocean, which is a measure of the ventilation rate. We use a 1-D advection–diffusion model in which the deep ocean is represented as a leaky funnel, allowing recirculation towards the surface. The analytical solutions to the steady-state problem are readily obtained. The three parameters of the leaky funnel model are estimated in such a way that the behaviour of the domain-averaged water age be as similar as possible to that derived from a 3-D model in a series of sensitivity runs. The agreement between both sets of mean ages is excellent, with a linear correlation coefficient very close to unity. A good agreement is also found for the age of radioactive tracers and the associated radioages. The parameters of the leaky funnel model have a clear physical meaning, that is, the order of magnitude of the horizontal velocity, the mean length of water parcel trajectories in the deep ocean, and a horizontal diffusivity scale. The values of all of them turn out to be consistent with our current knowledge of the World Ocean circulation.