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New Natixis index ranks U.S. 19th in worldwide retirement security

The U.S. ranks 19th worldwide in retirement security, according to the first Natixis Global Retirement Index, released Thursday.

European countries took the top 10 spots. Norway ranks first in retirement security, followed by Switzerland, Luxembourg, Sweden and Austria. Rounding out the top 10 were Finland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and France. Canada ranked 13th; Japan, 15th; and U.K., 20th.

The index gauges how well retired citizens live in 150 nations, based on health, finances and other factors. It ranks on a range from zero to 1.0. Norway led with 0.87; the U.S. was 0.739.

“The U.S. does lag behind Western Europe and some smaller economies in retirement security, specifically in the areas of health and income equality,” Tracey Flaherty, Natixis senior vice president, government relations and retirement strategy, said in a telephone interview. “There are also demographic trends (in the U.S.) that will have a negative impact on retirement.”

Those trends include a rapidly aging population, rising life expectancy and lower birth rate.

Four main categories — health, material well-being, finances and quality of life — were measured, with a total of 19 subsets, Ms. Flaherty said. Among the subsets were per-capita income and health spending, life expectancy, income inequality, unemployment, the ratio of retirees to workers, inflation, interest rates, taxes, and the quality of life and the environment. Each had basically the same weighting, Ms. Flaherty said.

Natixis' new index intends to “generate conversation” about what retirement policies should be, Ms. Flaherty said. “We believe that there should be a global discussion about these issues,” she said.

The index will be released annually by the Natixis Global Asset Management Durable Portfolio Research Center, which studies risk management, asset allocation and other investment issues.