Netherlands leads global pensions index

Pedro Gonçalves
Netherlands leads global pensions index

An international analysis has concluded that Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Australia and Finland have the best pensions system in the world.

The Netherlands and Denmark were the only countries out of 37 included in the final report that were awarded an A grade, with each receiving scores of over 80, according to the annual Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index

The German pensions system was placed in the B category, "a system that has a sound structure, with many good features, but has some areas for improvement that differentiates it from an A-grade system".

Norway was placed also in the B category. Norway's retirement income system comprises an earnings-related social security pension with a minimum pension level, and mandatory occupational pension plans. There are also many voluntary arrangements to provide additional benefits, the report notes.

Other countries in the B bracket were for example Canada, Chile and Sweden, while countries such as the UK, US received a C+ grade and for example India, China and Japan received only a D grade.

The report, which is supported by the Victorian government in Australia, lists pensions according to: adequacy (40%), which covers system design and tax support; sustainability (35%), covering contributions and total assets; and integrity (25%) which includes regulation and governance.

France scored just a C+, meaning the system has "some good features but also major risks and/or shortcomings."

France's generous pensions stem is currently at the centre of a major political battle, with president Emmanuel Macron intent on reforming the system but running into stiff resistance from unions.

Saudi Arabia has been urged to increase the state pension age to better reflect increasing life expectancy as its pension system was given a C mark in a global comparison list.

The retirement age for men is currently 60, with women able to retire at 55 but there are plans to gradually increase this to 65 and 63 by 2028.

Tarek Zouiten, Mercer's retirement business leader for the Middle East, said: "The government is working towards implementing new strategies that will allow Saudi Arabia to improve its current pension system, including better administration processes, more digitalisation, stronger governance and better coordination between government agencies.

Saudi Arabia had an overall index value of 57.1 among the countries analysed, scoring better than countries like Japan and Italy.

The report said the C mark represented a system that has "some good features, but also has major risks and/or shortcomings that should be addressed".

India stood at 32nd position in 2019 out of 37 countries, while it was ranked at 33rd place in 2018 out of 34 countries in the list. The report said that the draft wages and social security reforms, that have been launched in India, indicate the intent of policy makers in creating an inclusive and sustainable pensions system.

The Philippines has the fourth worst retirement system as it ranked 34th, with an overall index value of 43.7. Thailand is at the bottom of the list.


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