U.S. ranks 19 among 150 countries for retirement

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BLOOMBERG NEWS -- Those Swiss. They have great chocolate, beautiful lakes, fondue. And their citizens may actually be able to kick back and enjoy those things one day. The 2015 Natixis Global Retirement Security Index put Switzerland at the No. 1 spot in its annual ranking of the well-being and “life conditions” that pre-retirees and retirees can expect across 150 countries. The prospects for current and aspiring retirees in America is less good: The U.S. is stuck at No. 19, where it’s been for the past three years. That means it beat out No. 20, Slovenia (hurray!), but trails countries including Luxembourg, Iceland, and Belgium.

The global retirement index analyzes 20 trends across four categories—health, material well-being, finances, and quality of life—to rank 150 countries on how likely a secure and comfortable retirement is for their citizens. The good news for the U.S.: It moved up to No. 14 from No. 22 in the “finances in retirement” component of the ranking, thanks to good growth in gross domestic product, low interest rates, and low inflation. But the U.S. also has an aging population at a time when government debt is growing, says Ed Farrington, executive vice president for retirement at Natixis Global Asset Management, which could strain government programs that people count on, like Social Security. The U.S. is No. 19 in health; No. 37 in material well-being, dragged down by income inequality; and No. 25 in quality of life, just behind Mexico.

The top 20 countries for retirement security in 2015:
1. Switzerland (No. 1 in 2014)

High per capita income, financially strong institutions, and a high ranking on environment earned Switzerland the top spot.

2. Norway (2)

Strong social programs helped keep Norway in the second spot.

3. Australia (5)

A mandatory savings program has moved Australia up in the ranking.

4. Iceland (11)

Changes to Iceland’s financial system in the wake of its banking crisis has helped its ranking.

5. Netherlands (13)

Stronger finances propelled the Netherlands up the charts.

6. Sweden (4)

The Swedes are No. 4 in quality of life.

7. Denmark (6)

The No. 2 spot in quality of life goes to Denmark.

8. Austria (3)

In the health category, Austria is No. 1. In quality of life it ranks eighth.

9. Germany (7)

The Germans are right behind Austria on health, but in the 14th slot for quality of life.

10. New Zealand (9)

The country gets its highest ranking, No. 6, in finances in retirement. New Zealand’s mandatory savings program includes a $1,000 incentive from the government.

11. Luxembourg (10)

For health and material well-being, Luxembourg ranks fourth. It’s No. 66 for finances in retirement.

12. Canada (14)

Health is Canada’s lowest category ranking, at No. 31. Its highest ranking is for finances in retirement, at No. 11.

13. Finland (8)

For quality of life, the Finns are No. 6. On finances in retirement, Finland ranks way down, at No. 87.

14. Korea (17)

For the material well-being category, Korea is No. 7, and it’s No. 8 for finances in retirement. But quality of life? It ranks at No. 57.

15. Czech Republic (16)

Finances in retirement aren’t the country’s strong point—it ranks 47th. For health, the Czech Republic is No. 15.

16. Belgium (12)

For health and material well-being, Belgium ranks in the top 20 (11th and 16th, respectively).

17. Japan (27)

Improvements in health care, and fiscal reforms, sent Japan up 10 spots. Still, in the finances for retirement category, it’s No. 97.

18. France (15)

The third slot in the health category goes to France.

19. U.S. (19)

Both health and finances in retirement rank in the top 20 (19th and 14th, respectively). Wealth inequality helped push the U.S. down to No. 37 in the material well-being category.

20. Slovenia (21)

For health, material well-being, and quality of life, Slovenia ranks in the low 20s. On finances in retirement, the country is No. 70.


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