Retirement assets in the 13 major global markets increased 4% to a record $27.5 trillion in 2011, according to Towers Watson's annual Global Pension Assets Study.
Global pension fund assets have now grown at more than 6% on average annually since 2001 when they were valued at $15 trillion.
The U.S. accounts for 59% of total pension assets, followed by Japan at 12% and the U.K. at 9%, according to the study.
Despite the growth in assets, fund balance sheets weakened globally in 2011 because of increased liabilities.
Pension assets amount to 72% of global GDP, down from 76% at the end of 2010, according to the study, which can be found at the firm's website, www.towerswatson.com/press/6313.
Defined contribution assets for the seven largest markets — U.S., U.K., Japan, Netherlands, Canada, Australia and Switzerland — now make up 43% of global retirement assets, up from 41% in 2005 and 38% in 2001. The U.S., Australia and Switzerland are the only countries with more DC assets than DB. In the past 10 years, the compound annual growth rate of DC assets was 8% vs. 5% for DB assets.