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Retirement Security

U.S. slips to 17th in retirement security index

The U.S. ranks 17th globally in retirement security, down three spots from last year, the Natixis Global Asset Management 2017 Global Retirement Index shows.

The index, launched in 2013, assesses how well retired citizens live in various nations across four broad categories — health, finances, material well-being and quality of life. The 2017 index was released Wednesday.

Forty-three countries with developed retirement systems were assessed in 2017, the same number as last year.

Natixis, in a report accompanying this year's release, attributed part of the decline in the U.S. ranking to "lagging life expectancy and a growing gap in economic opportunity."

The U.S. ranked 30th among the 43 countries for life expectancy in 2017, and 37th for income equality. It also has the seventh-highest public debt as percentage of GDP and the seventh-lowest environmental factors score, Natixis found. On the flip side, the U.S. continues to benefit from high per capita income, stable financial institutions, low inflation and falling unemployment.

While the U.S. dropped three spots in the ranking, its overall retirement security score dropped only one percentage point to 72%, said David Goodsell, executive director of Natixis' durable portfolio construction research center. The ranking is a reflection of how countries performed relative to one another, not their absolute performance, Mr. Goodsell said in a telephone interview.

Norway, Switzerland and Iceland, which benefit from healthy economies, stable financial systems, good debt management and health-care access, continued to rank first, second and third in retirement security, respectively, Mr. Goodsell said.

Rounding out the top 10 were Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, Germany. Denmark, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Luxembourg and Denmark were new additions to the top 10 this year and two of the most-improved performers. Canada and Austria, which ranked 10th and 9th in 2016, respectively, fell to 11th and 13th place respectively.

The five lowest ranking countries in 2017 were Turkey, Russia, Brazil, Greece and India, unchanged from 2016. Behind India's lowest overall ranking are the lowest scores for life expectancy, income per capita, health expenditure per capita and non-insured health expenditures.

The overall takeaway is providing a secure environment for retirees is "complicated;" there are many underlying factors, Mr. Goodsell said.

The full report is available on Natixis' website.