Anybody doing retirement planning in the United States has to accept the fact that they're increasingly on their own.
Because of that reality, Natixis Global Asset Management, a Paris-based financial management company, puts retirement security in the U.S. at 19th among 150 countries worldwide.
Natixis bases this conclusion on an analysis of health care resources, income and income equity, unemployment, the ratio of retirees to workers, taxation, stability of Social Security, and how happy and satisfied people say they feel. The factors are measured by organizations such as the World Bank, the World Health Organization, the United Nations and the Gallup World Poll.
The U.S. is close to top-ranked in terms of per capita income, but what drags it down are scores in these key categories.
Health (23rd): The U.S. spends the most on health care, but it lags in access to care compared to other nations, and U.S. citizens have shorter life expectancies than most of the developed world.
Material well-being (38th): U.S. per capita income is nearly the highest in the world, but there's a lot of income inequity, falling behind countries such as Poland, Slovakia and Singapore in this category.
Financial stability (28th): Social Security's financial instability is one of the big reasons the U.S. trails Canada, Brazil and Mexico in this category.
Quality of life (26th): Costa Rica, Italy and Belize's citizens are are among those who say they are happier with their lives than people in the U.S.
Here's Natixis' top 20 list of countries where retirement is most secure:
- Czech Republic.
- United States.
- United Kingdom.
The bottom 10 countries are: Togo, Turkmenistan, Niger, Afghanistan, Mali, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zimbabwe.
"There is a looming retirement crisis in the U.S. if individuals don't save more and if the government doesn't figure out the right policies," says Tracey Flaherty, senior vice president for retirement strategy and public policy at Natixis.
You might have noticed that this list doesn't take into account the essential differences between countries like top-ranked Norway and the U.S. For instance, the population of Norway isn't as big as that of South Carolina.
"Always when you look at global there is a mix of sizes," Flaherty says. "The issues are similar, and I think we can learn from each other because we all face the same aging demographics."