The Swiss have a lot to be thankful for. They are surrounded by beautiful pastoral lands, clean air, a good education system and retirement security that ranks better than all other countries in the world. That’s according to the 2015 Natixis Global Retirement Security Index. 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 U.S. came in at an unflattering No. 19, where it has resided for the last three years of this particular study. The good news for the U.S., however, is that it raised its ranking from No. 22 to No. 14 for “finances in retirement,” due in part to growth in gross domestic product, low interest rates and low inflation.
For a look at the top 10 countries for retirement security, continue reading.
10. New Zealand (No. 9 in 2014)
New Zealand’s mandatory savings program has helped the country break the top 10. The program includes a $1,000 incentive from the government.
9. Germany (No. 7 in 2014)
The report points to Germany’s lackluster economic growth (as compared to 2014) and continuously falling interest rates as the reason for it two-spot fall from last year to 2015. The country’s low unemployment rate, growth in exports and strong health care system, among other things, have helped it remain in the top 10 spot for retirement security.
8. Austria (No. 3 in 2014)
The picturesque European country experienced a significant drop in ranking from last year, due to the long-lasting effects of the financial crisis, which is still having detrimental effects on the finances of current and future retirees. The good news? Austria’s health care system maintains its top ranking, driven by a high proportion of health professionals per capita, abundant funding and an improvement in health insurance coverage. Retirees in Austria also enjoy high levels of material wellbeing with a high level of income equality, income per capita and a low, albeit rising, level of unemployment.
7. Denmark (No. 6 in 2014)
Though Denmark slipped one spot from last year’s rankings, Danish retirees still have it good. They benefit from extensive government welfare programs and comfortable living standards. “Denmark has extremely low levels of income inequality coupled with one of the highest levels of income per capita, at approximately $45,000 (about $1,000 more than last year). Denmark also boasts a highly effective universal health system, with one of the highest levels of health expenditure per capita,” the report states.
6. Sweden (No. 4 in 2014)
Sweden’s fall from the No. 4 spot last year was due mostly to relatively high levels of unemployment (8 percent) and political instability. Still, the Swedes enjoy a universal welfare system, a top-rated health care system, high life expectancy (82 years) and an increase in quality of life due primarily to government policies aimed at reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions that contribute to a better and healthier environment.
5. Netherlands (No. 13 in 2014)
The Netherlands managed to jump an impressive eight spots from last year’s rankings. According to the report, the rise is due mostly to an increase in retirees’ finances (thanks to an improvement in the interest rate environment) and the country’s high marks in both health and material well-being. Though the Netherlands made it into the top 5, questions remain in regards to the sustainability of the Dutch welfare state and pension system given negative demographic projections and an increasing old age dependency ratio.
4. Iceland (No. 11 in 2014)
Although Iceland witnessed the systemic collapse of its three major commercial banks between 2008 and 2011, the government has been able to limit serious, long-term economic damage. In fact, Standard & Poor’s recently upgraded Iceland from negative to stable, illustrating the positive effects of the Icelandic government’s ability to stabilize debt and improve sustainability. Overall, Iceland’s improved banking system and overall economic performance have played a major part in catapulting the country to the No. 4 spot.
3. Australia (No. 5 in 2014)
As the report states, “Australia is one of the fastest-growing developed countries in the world, with a strong services and commodities industry. Australians benefit from a strong welfare system, high income equality and low levels of unemployment (approximately 5 percent).” This, along with low levels of public debt, strong bank balance sheets and low levels of inflation, has helped the country improve its ranking over last year. One area where Australia could use much improvement, according to the report, is its level of CO2 emissions (energy-intensive industries such as mining are a key component to the country’s economy — and to its high levels of CO2 emissions per capita).
2. Norway (No. 2 in 2014)
Norway once claimed the No. 1 spot on this list, back in 2013. Though the country still cannot claim top spot, it can be proud of its “extremely high quality of life, outstanding health care system and sound financial system,” as the report states. Norway’s government has also proven to be careful managers of its oil wealth — the country runs one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds with assets worth over $890 billion. In an impressive move, Norway decreased its level of government debt relative to GDP, from nearly half of GDP (49.6 percent) to one-third (34.1 percent).
1. Switzerland (No. 1 in 2014)
The Swiss take the No. 1 spot yet again as the country remains a lesson the rest of the world on how to govern a country — and therefore benefit retirees — successfully. As the report states, “Switzerland has an extremely high quality of life and an outstanding health care system, and is one of the world’s leading financial centers as a result of its track record, strong fundamentals and solid regulatory framework.” Switzerland continues to prove that the country has recovered better from the worldwide financial crisis than all its European counterparts.
To see the full report, click here.