By MANDI WOODRUFF
For retirees hoping to live long and prosper in their golden years, the U.S. is only the 19th best place to be, according to a new index by the NGAM Durable Portfolio Research Center.
The humbling report, called the Natixis Global Retirement Index, places Western European countries far ahead of the U.S. in areas like health, finances, quality of life, and material well-being.
"The message is clear: You will be called on to finance more of your retirement," John Hailer, NGAM's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.
"Citizens of other industrialized nations can rely on strong social safety nets in old age, at least for now. In the U.S., we encourage workers to plan, save and invest, and promote policies that help them meet their future needs."
Norway ranked the best out of 150 nations studied, followed by Switzerland, Luxembourg, Sweden and Austria.
The U.S. was also overshadowed by its neighbor to the North, Canada (No. 13), Japan (No. 15), and came in just one spot ahead of the United Kingdom (No. 20).
Here's where the U.S. falls behind:
A costly health care system. Although the U.S. spends more on health care per capita than any other country in the world, consumers are still left to cover a big portion of those costs on their own. For retirees, those costs only increase with age. On average, a 65-year-old couple will shell out more than $250,000 for out-of-pocket health care spending needs, according to U.S. News and World Report. Nearly all the high-ranking countries in the NGAM index have universal health care systems in place.
Aging boomers. Americans are living longer than ever, but federally sponsored social programs that so many older consumers rely on today may not be able to sustain future retirees. According to NGAM, the number of people aged 65 or older is on track to triple by 2050. There's no telling how long Social Security will last as a viable income option, and as it stands, more than half of married couples and 74 percent of unmarried persons receive 50 percent or more of their income from Social Security. It's more vital than ever for consumers to re-estimate how much they'll need to support themselves in retirement.
Retirement savings deficit. It should come as no surprise that more consumers are relying on social programs to supplement their income in old age. The Great Recession played its roll in pummeling nest eggs for millions of workers, but U.S. workers aren't exactly known for their savvy savings strategy to begin with. More than 53 percent of American workers 30 and older are on a path that will leave them unprepared for retirement, according to a recent U.S. Senate Report. And as it stands, only one-third of eligible workers bother to take advantage of retirement savings plans through their employer.