UK retirement system sticks at world’s 17th best

James Phillips reports...

The UK continues to lag behind its global counterparts for retirement security, ranking 17th out of 44 nations in Natixis Investment Managers’ global retirement index.

While the placing remains the same as in 2018 – and one place higher than in 2017 – declines in health, finances and wellbeing caused its accumulated score to drop marginally from 73% to 72%.

In particular, the rating for material wellbeing fell by two percentage points to 69%, ranking 18th compared to 16th in 2018 and 15th in 2017. The measure is based on an assessment of income equality, income per capita, and unemployment, using data from a variety of sources, including the World Bank and Eurostat.

However, the lowest score among the sub-indices was found in the assessment of finances in retirement, where the UK ranked 34th out of 44, with a rating of just 56%. This measure includes factors such as the old-age dependency ratio, inflation, real interest rates, and public debt.

Head of institutional sales Lucas Crasborn said: “The lack of improvement in old-age dependency, along with high levels of government indebtedness and a five-year average for real interest rates below zero, have increased the pressure on retirement security in the UK.”

Nevertheless, the UK did break into the top ten countries for the quality of life index, where it secured an 85% rating, compared to 83% last year – and moved up three ranks to 9th. This index considers air quality, water and sanitation, and happiness.

The rating for health, based on factors such as life expectancy, remained stagnant at 83% – although it dropped two places from 16th to 18th.

Meanwhile, Iceland nabbed the top spot in the overall rankings, swapping positions with Switzerland which fell into second place. Norway remained third in the rankings, while Ireland climbed from 7th to 4th; the latter nation has seen a remarkable improvement since 2017 when it ranked 14th.

While the UK remained in the same position, it was overtaken by Israel, and the United States dropped behind.

Chief executive Jean Raby said the index had been created to “facilitate a candid conversation” about how retirement security can be improved.

He added: “Meeting the needs of today’s retirees while preserving retirement security for future generations continues to be one of the most pressing challenges for economies around the globe.”