Countries with Best Retirement Security

The U.S. just makes the top 20, ranking behind less affluent nations like the Czech Republic and Slovakia and just ahead of the U.K., according to a new study.

In a study of the retirement security in 150 nations, the United States only ranked 19, behind countries like Finland, Israel and the Czech Republic, but just ahead of the United Kingdom.

In what is probably little to no surprise to most Americans, the Natixis Global Retirement Index suggests that Americans will need to pick up a bigger share of their retirement costs. Natixis Global Asset Management’s (NGAM) index gauges how well retired citizens in 150 nations live, measuring health, material well-being, finances and quality of life during retirement.

“The message is clear: You will be called on to finance more of your retirement,” said John Hailer, NGAM’s president and chief executive officer for the Americas and Asia. “Citizens of other industrialized nations can rely on strong social safety nets in old age, at least for now. In the U.S., we encourage workers to plan, save and invest, and promote policies that help them meet their future needs.”

According to the report, health care is a big reason why the U.S. is so low on the list. Despite the fact that health care spending is so high, the nation lags behind other countries in access to care:

“While the U.S. leads the world in per-capita health spending, individuals are still required to pay a portion of this expense on their own. That leaves many health costs in the hands of retirees and takes resources away from their other needs.”

In the category of material well-being the U.S. came in at 38, behind Poland. Per-capita income in the U.S. is among the highest in the world, but the country has a higher degree of income inequality than many developed nations. In the finances category, the U.S. ranked 28, behind Mexico and Canada, because the nation's aging population raises questions about the long-term durability of programs like Social Security. Lastly for quality of life the U.S. was ranked 26. Americans expressed a high level of satisfaction with life, but environmental measures are lacking.

It is expected that by 2050, when the number of people over the age of 65 in the world has tripled, the ratio of working-age population to those over 65 in the U.S. will have dropped from 5:1 to 2.8:1.

Furthermore the U.S. is facing a $6.6 trillion retirement gap, according to a U.S. Senate report. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has estimated that 53% of American workers age 30 and older are on the path to be unprepared for retirement, up from just 38% in 2011.

(Note: Each country receives a score of 0 to 1 in the following four categories. Scores are determined based on data from various sources, including the World Bank and United Nations.)

10. France

Montmartre, Paris

Health: 0.878

Finances: 0.650

Quality of life: 0.824

Material well-being: 0.793

9. Germany

Dresden. Image copyright Eric and Nancy Anderson.

Health: 0.875

Finances: 0.638

Quality of life: 0.799

Material well-being: 0.849

8. Denmark

Houses on the Nyhavn canal in Copenhagen

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Wikipedia.

Health: 0.831

Finances: 0.649

Quality of life: 0.825

Material well-being: 0.863

7. Netherlands

Amsterdam

Health: 0.853

Finances: 0.654

Quality of life: 0.823

Material well-being: 0.883

6. Finland

Helsinki

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Wikipedia.

Health: 0.824

Finances: 0.782

Quality of life: 0.783

Material well-being: 0.841

5. Austria

Gardens in Mirabell Palace in Salzberg.

Wikipedia.

Health: 0.897

Finances: 0.650

Quality of life: 0.826

Material well-being: 0.902

4. Sweden

Stockholm. Wikipedia.

Health: 0.825

Finances: 0.741

Quality of life: 0.850

Material well-being: 0.852

3. Luxembourg

Luxembourg City

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Wikipedia.

Health: 0.852

Finances: 0.799

Quality of life: 0.783

Material well-being: 0.945

2. Switzerland

The Rhine in Basel

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Wikipedia.

Health: 0.843

Finances: 0.828

Quality of life: 0.920

Material well-being: 0.882

1. Norway

Bergen

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Wikipedia.

Health: 0.854

Finances: 0.788

Quality of life: 0.874

Material well-being: 0.974

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Natixis Global Retirement Index