Top 10 countries with the most secure retirement

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Why are these people smiling? Maybe they live in one of the top 10 countries with the most secure retirement, as ranked by the Natixis global retirement index. Scroll down to see the top 10. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Some countries do better than others when it comes to offering a secure, quality retirement.

Natixis looked at factors driving retirement security for 43 countries, using data from numerous sources, including the World Bank, to arrive at the final index results.

The 43 nations make up the International Monetary Fund advanced economies, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the BRIC countries.

According to the Natixis 2018 Global Retirement Index, which looks at the economic, health and environmental factors that affect retiree welfare and financial security,  the U.S. actually rose to 16th place from its previous slot of 17, thanks to improvements in material well-being (where it  ranks 26th) and finances (where it comes in at 9th place) from the year before.

The index incorporates 18 performance indicators divided into four main categories critical to retirement:

  • Finances in Retirement
  • Material Well-being
  • Quality of Life
  • Health

It evaluates those factors against the demographics of retirees to evaluate and compare the level of retirement security in different countries around the world.

But it’s not all about money—or health. Such factors as happiness and biodiversity also play a role in where the countries rank.

Although the U.S. rose from 17 to 16 in ranking, it lost ground on health, life expectancy and quality of life, the latter including dips in happiness and biodiversity indicators.

One interesting note: With the single exception of Finland, all the Scandinavian countries finished comfortably in the top 10.

One section in the report, “Protecting the Promise: Five critical threats to global retirement security,” examines challenges to retirement in the wake of the financial crisis. It finds that “the unintended consequences of monetary policy moves playing out over the past decade have put retirement security further from reach, making savings more expensive, stifling employment and wage growth, and all but eliminating the yield retirees were counting on from bond staples.”

The Natixis report is full of thought-provoking data, and the authors say they hope it will contribute to the dialogue on how best to meet older generations’ needs now and in the future.

Below are the top 10 countries with the most secure retirement for their residents:

10. The Netherlands.

Although the Netherlands actually lost ground in the Finances area, it improved in Material Well-being, in which it finished fifth overall.

The country also saw improvements in its employment indicator score and had eighth- and ninth-place scores for income equality and income per capita, respectively.

It also has the highest score for the insured health expenditure indicator and the sixth-highest score for health expenditure per capita.

In addition, its life expectancy indicator has risen from last year, as did its air quality and environmental factors indicators.

And it has the sixth-highest happiness indicator score out of all GRI countries. (Photo of Amsterdam: Shutterstock)

9. Canada.

Canada gained enough to move up two spots from its last finish and break into the top 10. Quality of Life, Finances and Material Well-Being categories all rose.

The first saw improvement through its biodiversity, air quality and environmental factors indicators, with the second-highest air quality and seventh-highest personal happiness scores in the entire GRI.

Improvement in bank non-performing loans, interest rate, tax pressure and governance indicators helped it in Finances, and despite a bit of a decline in some subcategories of Health, it still managed to finish in 8th place in that category overall. (Photo of Vancouver BC: Shutterstock)

8. Denmark.

Denmark’s Quality of Life and Health scores both rose this year, at 1st and 14th places, respectively, although it did fall two places in Material Well-Being.

Rises in air quality and environmental factors helped it with that first-place Quality of Life score—the highest of all GRI countries—and happiness was in 3rd place. Its life expectancy, by the way, has improved. (Photo of Copenhagen: Shutterstock)

7. Ireland.

Ireland jumped from 14th place into 7th this year, making the top ten thanks to, among other things, improvements in Material Well-Being (12th place), Finances (10th place) and Health (19th place).

Employment is up and unemployment is down to 6.2 percent, and income equality has also improved since last year.

And while life expectancy is up slightly, it didn’t move the needle much in the health category; neither did health expenditure per capita or insured health expenditure. In fact, all three came in in 17th place. (Photo of Irish castle: Shutterstock)

6. Australia.

Australia held on to its 6th place position, and did pretty well in several Finances subcategories: inflation and tax pressure indicators, interest rates and bank nonperforming loans.

But it did lose ground in happiness, and although it managed to improve its environmental factors score, it has the ninth-lowest score in this category of all GRI countries.

It also declined a bit in life expectancy, income equality and income per capita, although not enough to knock it out of the spot it’s held since last year—and it did see improvement in employment. (Photo of Sydney: Shutterstock)

5. New Zealand.

New Zealand ranked fifth last year, too, although it’s fallen in the rankings since then—just not enough to push it into a lower spot.

It outperforms the others in Finances, and has the highest governance score of all the GRI countries, but when it comes to material well-being, it’s dropped in all subcategories but employment—which did see a bit of improvement.

Still, it’s high in such categories as happiness (despite the decline), biodiversity and environmental factors. (Photo of New Zealand’s The Remarkables mountain range: Shutterstock)

4. Sweden.

Down since last year—except in health—Sweden saw declines in Material Well-Being, Finances and Quality of Life. Income equality dropped the most in the subindex, but not enough to knock it further down in the list.

Quality of Life saw the smallest decline, and the country has the second-highest score for environmental factors and the ninth-highest for happiness. (Photo of Stockholm: Shutterstock)

3. Norway.

Norway was in the top spot last year, but has fallen to third place thanks to a “significant decline” in Finances ( dropping from 9th to 28th) and a drop in the Material Well-Being (2nd) sub-index.

Notwithstanding, Norway has the third-highest score for governance and the seventh-highest score for government indebtedness. It also improved in both Health and Quality of Life categories, with improvements in life expectancy, biodiversity and air quality.

Also, despite declines, it still ranks second and third, respectively, in happiness and environmental factors. (Photo of Norway: Shutterstock)

2. Iceland.

Iceland made it into second place this year, with improvements in Material Well-Being (first-place finish), Finances and Health.

Quality of Life did see a small decline, but still finished in the top 10. The country also boasts the top score for employment and for income equality. It also rates a fourth-place finish for happiness, sixth place for air quality and seventh for environmental factors. (Photo of Iceland: Shutterstock)

1. Switzerland.

Switzerland made it to first place this year with higher scores for Quality of Life (3rd), Finances (5th) and Health (7th) subindices, although it did get a lower score for Material Well-Being (4th).

Air quality and environmental improvements pushed its Quality of Life score higher, and it has the highest environmental factors score and fifth-highest happiness score among all GRI countries. Life expectancy also improved. (Photo of Iseltwald at the lake Brienz, Brienzersee: Shutterstock)

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