The United States ranked near the bottom of the top 20 countries in term of retirement security, according to a new report.
Natixis Global Asset Management published its second annual Global Retirement Index on Tuesday. The country-by-country ranking of financial security for retirees is based on factors that might affect their retirement savings and quality of life and was compiled with support from CoreData Research, a financial research firm in the U.K.
Among the 150 countries analyzed, the U.S. placed 19th, clinging to its spot among the top 20 countries, behind Nordic and western European countries and ahead of only Israel. The benefits of increasing U.S. economic stability were moderated by the potential for rising interest rates and inflation, along with persistent income inequality.
The ranking shows the impact of government debt, health care costs, inflation and income inequality on future retirement funding resources, a reality that Natixis found is increasingly shifting retiree financial security onto individuals.
“The responsibility for financial security in retirement is falling even more heavily on individuals than ever before and this trend is likely to continue as government resources become more scarce,” said John T. Hailer, CEO of Natixis Global Asset Management in the Americas and Asia, in a statement. “It is becoming increasingly apparent that to ensure financial security in retirement, individuals need to set personal goals and view planning and saving for retirement as a serious, conscious and strategic pursuit.”
The 2014 Global Retirement Index is based on an analysis by Natixis Global Asset Management of 20 key trends across four broad categories: Health and healthcare quality, personal income and finances, quality of life and socio-economic factors. Together, these trends provide a measure of the life conditions and wellbeing expected by retirees and near-retirees.
The U.S. scored higher year over year in all four broad categories, yet was surpassed by other nations trending higher in areas such as healthcare and government debt. For overall retirement security, the U.S. remains behind the majority of countries in Western Europe and Canada, and ahead only of Israel on the list of the top 20 nations. Despite ranking sixth highest in per capita income, the U.S. ranks first in per capita healthcare expenditures, yet 33rd for life expectancy and relatively low (81st) for income inequality.
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this serious, growing retirement planning challenge,” said Hailer. “The optimal pension system for any country depends on a variety of economic, social, cultural and political factors. However, the policies and practices adopted in some regions that rate highly could hold valuable lessons for other nations, such as the U.S., which need to shore up its retirement system.”
Many of the top countries in this year’s Retirement Index have demonstrated a commitment to innovation and have emphasized simplicity in their retirement scheme’s overall design and structure. Many also have proactive governments that have shown a willingness to come together and take bold policy stances in their ongoing efforts to stabilize retirement security for their citizens.
Retirees in European countries enjoyed the greatest financial security in retirement, with eight of the top 10 places among the 150 nations. Countries heading the global list include top-ranked Switzerland, second-ranked Norway (last year’s no. 1), Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Finland and Luxembourg. Australia and New Zealand are the only non-European countries to break into the top 10 globally.
New Zealand, Iceland and the Republic of Korea were the most improved performers in the top tier of the rankings, with each climbing at least 10 places from last year to enter the top 20. In contrast, Japan dropped from the top 20, as did export-dependent European nations Slovenia and Slovakia. The following table highlights the top 20 countries for 2014 and shows their ranking from last year.
Natixis Global Retirement Index Top 20 Nations for 2014
1. Switzerland (ranked 2nd in 2013)
2. Norway (1)
3. Austria (5)
4. Sweden (4)
5. Australia (11)
6. Denmark (8)
7. Germany (9)
8. Finland (6)
9. New Zealand (22)
10. Luxembourg (3)
11. Iceland (23)
12. Belgium (14)
13. Netherlands (7)
14. Canada (13)
15. France (10)
16. Czech Republic (17)
17. Republic of Korea (27)
18. United Kingdom (20)
19. United States (19)
20. Israel (12)
For a more detailed overview of the Natixis Global Retirement Index, including the rankings of all 150 nations evaluated, go to www.durableportfolios.com.