13 Countries With Better Retirement Systems Than U.S.
The U.S. continues to decline in Mercer’s ranking of the world’s pension systems
The United States has continued its decline among countries’ retirement income systems ranked in the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index.
Mercer released the results of its 2015 index, which encompasses 25 countries with pension systems at varying stages of maturity – some systems are well established while others, particularly in the Asia, are still developing.
“The U.S. retirement system continues to rank in the middle of the pack,” Emily Eaton, a senior consultant in Mercer’s International Consulting Group, said in a statement. “Concerns over the adequacy of the typical level of benefits provided under the U.S. system contribute to our lackluster score.”
Mercer gives several suggestions on how the U.S. can improve its retirement savings system.
“The lack of employer-provided supplemental retirement benefits for many Americans, and the relatively low labor force participation rates of our older workers, are also contributing factors to the U.S. ranking,” Eaton said in a statement. “There have been a series of regulatory changes to address these issues, but additional action could improve the adequacy and sustainability of the U.S. system.”
Mercer recommends additional action — such as raising the minimum pension for low-income retirees, adjusting the level of mandatory contributions to increase the net replacement for median-income earners, reducing preretirement leakage by further limiting the access to funds before retirement, and introducing a requirement that part of the retirement benefit must be taken as an income stream — i.e., an annuity.
“The recent efforts, at both the state and national level, to introduce auto-enrollment and/or state-run individual retirement accounts, is an encouraging step in the right direction,” Eaton added. “However, these are the first, small steps in improving retirement adequacy for the majority of Americans.”
In order to rank the retirement systems across the globe, the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index objectively evaluates both the publicly funded and private components of a system as well as personal assets and savings outside the pension system.
It measures the 25 retirement income systems against more than 50 indicators under the sub-indexes of adequacy, sustainability and integrity. From there, it gives each country a letter grade based on the country’s score – creating a global scorecard for retirement savings.
Here’s what Mercer had to say about the U.S. retirement system and the 13 countries that outranked it:
The U.S. slipped from 13th place in 2014 to 14th in the 2015 index. According to the index, this drop reflects a continuation from the 2013 ranking, where the U.S. placed 11th.
Mercer describes the United States’ retirement income system as “a social security system with a progressive benefit formula based on lifetime earnings, adjusted to a current dollar basis, together with a means-tested top-up benefit; and voluntary private pensions, which may be occupational or personal.”
France’s retirement income system involves an earnings-related public pension with a minimum pension level, two mandatory occupational pension plans for blue and white collar workers respectively, and voluntary occupational plans.
Mercer describes Germany’s retirement income system as “an earnings related pay-as-you-go system based on the number of pension points earned during an individual’s career; a means-tested safety net for low-income pensioners; and supplementary pension plans which are common amongst major employers.”
According to Mercer, these plans typically either adopt a book reserving approach, with or without segregated assets, or an insured pensions approach.