(Related: 20 Best US Cities for Retirement: 2018)
The U.S. improved its position among 43 countries in the 2018 Global Retirement Index, released Thursday by Natixis Investment Managers, edging up one notch.
The report attributed the modest rise in the U.S. rank to improving economic conditions and financial institutional strength.
The Global Retirement Index, now in its sixth annual iteration, provides the 43 countries’ relative scores on key measures that influence retirement security. An overall score for each country is based on an examination of 18 factors across four broad categories: finances in retirement, material well-being, quality of life and health.
“We hope this report will serve as a framework for much-needed dialogue among policymakers, pension managers, workers and the financial industry about how to meet the needs of today’s retirees while preserving retirement security for future generations,” Jean Raby, chief executive at Natixis Investment Managers, said in a statement.
“Global retirement security is facing a multidimensional problem, as the traditional three-pillar funding model is challenged by 21st century demographics, fiscal imbalances and monetary policies that are straining the resources of individuals, employers and governments around the world.”
Western Europe continued to dominate the top 10 countries in the 2018 index, claiming seven positions. “This year the countries in the top 10 all benefit from three strong main factors: their social programs, widely accessible health care and low levels of income inequality,” Ed Farrington, executive vice president of retirement strategies at Natixis Investment Managers, said in the statement.
“That said, none of the countries are entirely immune to the challenges that are associated with an aging population, strained government resources and a pension crisis.”
According to the report, several factors affected the U.S. position in this year’s index.
The U.S. maintained its top 10 ranking for finances, chiefly because of improvements in tax pressure, fewer nonperforming bank loans and rising interest rates, which improve saving levels and income in retirement. But there was no improvement in government indebtedness, where the U.S. has the seventh-lowest score among all countries for the second year in a row.
Moreover, the old-age dependency ratio — a measure of the burden workers bear to provide pension, health care and social security benefits to retirees — has been climbing steadily as baby boomer retirements surge, straining government resources such as Social Security.
Job market improvements helped the U.S. advance its score for the material well-being category. It also ticked up slightly in the income equality gap compared with last year. However, the U.S. has the seventh-worst score for this indicator, despite having the fifth-highest income per capita of all countries in the index, implying a continuing challenge for lower-income Americans to save for retirement.
The U.S.’s quality of life sub-index score, which measures happiness and environmental factors, deteriorated in the 2018 index. The country’s performance for air quality and environmental factors improved, but the latter still had the seventh-lowest score among all index countries. The U.S. lagged last year’s score for protection of its ecosystem, for example, flood control and soil renewal.
In addition, its happiness indicator score, which evaluates the quality of retirees’ current lives, also declined.
The U.S. held on to its position in the top 10 for the health category, in part because it spends more per capita on healthcare than any other country in the index. Even so, it dropped three notches because of further decline in its life expectancy score, suggesting health expenditures may not be yielding the same return on investment.
Check out the gallery to see the top 25 countries on this year’s Global Retirement Index.
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