The US Is Now Ranked 17th In the World For Retirement Security

July 25, 2017 by Josh Hrala

The US has dropped to rank 17 in the 2017 Global Retirement Index, which examines the level of retirement security in countries around the world.

According to the report, which was compiled by Natixis Global Asset Management, the top three most secure countries to retire in this year are Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland. All of which held the top three spots in last year’s assessment, too. In 2016, the US ranked 14th.

So, what’s causing the drop?

To answer that, let’s first look at an overview of the report’s findings.

The first bit of information gleaned is that retirement security is struggling in many places around the world.

“Retirement security is challenged on many fronts across the globe. Slow growth, low interest rates, and the looming threat of inflation stretch the economics of retirement funding,” Natixis reports.

“Debates about the viability of entitlement programs, the prioritization of short-term goals for lower taxes, and deficit reductions over ensuring long-term sustainability of retirement benefits make the politics of retirement contentious.”

Also, aging demographics play a large role. With so many Baby Boomers reaching retirement age, the systems we currently have in place are struggling to keep up.


As Natixis puts it:

“Above all other issues, one factor holds the greatest sway over retirement security: demographics. Simply put, the world is getting older. Today, there are more individuals age 65 and older than ever before and these 600 million individuals are placing pressures on established retirement systems.”

How the Top Stayed on Top

The European countries that remained at the top of the list do have several things in common. According to NBC, the ingredients needed for high levels of retirement security are strong social programs, accessible healthcare, and low levels of income inequality.

While the US has many great things going for it, the income gap is reportedly the cause of many retirement woes with some people claiming they will have to continue working into their 70s before retiring, if they can retire at all.

Evidence of this can be seen in the report’s “Material Wellbeing” metric, which is one of four areas the team evaluated to come to their conclusion.  

“Meanwhile, the Material Wellbeing (28th) sub-index suffers the biggest decline of the four. While the country has the fifth highest income per capita, inequality remains an area of concern given it has the sixth-lowest score for income equality,” the report states.

Besides the Material Wellbeing metric, the US also dropped in “Quality of Life” index, too, which the team says is due to a dip in the levels of happiness reported by retirees from 2016.

An Interesting Omission

The funny thing about the finding is that the team seems to ignore one of the more obvious reasons that people don’t feel secure in retire: lifestyle.


Besides money – which is definitely the biggest factor for many – the lifestyle change that comes with retirement can be stressful. After all, decades of structured days, workplace socializing, and a sense of purpose, can evaporate when someone is suddenly thrust into retirement.

With Americans living and working longer, it makes sense that healthy, well-off individuals find it hard to give up their day-to-day routine. In fact, even the thought can be stressful for some.

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These individuals, known as reluctant retirees, would probably fit into the reports Quality of Life Metric, which seems to seek more information than simply the financial side of retirement.

It’s an interesting look into how populations from all over the world view the later stage of their careers, a part of life that is ever-changing – now so more than ever.

Read the entire report here. 

Josh Hrala

Josh Hrala

Josh is an HR journalist and ghostwriter who's been covering outplacement and offboarding for over six years. Before pivoting to the HR world, he was a science journalist whose work can be found in Popular Science, ScienceAlert, The Huffington Post, Cracked, Modern Notion, and more.

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