August 23, 2016 – This summer, the world watched as the world’s best athletes gathered in Rio for the 2016 Summer Olympics. The events represent much more than athletic competition—they’re also a time when countries put their differences aside and share culture and celebration. The games are a reminder that despite our many differences, in the end, regardless of race or nationality, we have much in common. We also share common struggles, for example, how to take care of a rapidly aging population that is no longer able to work. Here is a look at how various countries approach the challenges of retirement:
In 2008, the United Kingdom passed a law requiring that employers in the country provide their workers with access to a workplace retirement plan that meets certain requirements. As part of that law, the government created a new option for employers to offer their workers: the National Employment Savings Trust, or “NEST.” NEST is run on a not-for-profit basis and ensures that all employers have access to a suitable, low-charge pension plan that they can automatically enroll their employees into. More than 1 million people are currently on the plan, which is free for employers to use.
In the summer of 2007, New Zealand started a national workplace savings program called the KiwiSaver Program to help workers save for retirement or the purchase of their first home. New Zealanders are automatically enrolled in the program, which deducts 3%, 4% or 8% of before-tax pay from each paycheck and places it into a savings account. As an incentive to participate, the government starts each worker off with NZ$1,000. The funds in the account cannot be accessed until age 65, unless one is purchasing a home or is facing extreme financial hardship.
Australia uses a program similar to America’s Social Security called Age Pension. To receive payouts from the program individuals must have ten years of residency in Australia. The country also operates a required savings program that has citizens put away 9% of their annual salaries into a 401(k) “superannuation account”. The program has been successful—according to Bloomberg, “Since its introduction in 1992, the Superannuation Guarantee program has grown to $1.52 trillion, more than the country’s gross domestic product, with more than 90 percent of workers putting money into the system. By comparison, Americans have about twice that, $2.8 trillion, in their 401(k) accounts, with a population 14 times larger.” Australians can take money out of the accounts as soon as they reach age 59.5.
To learn more about retirement savings programs across the world, check out the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index, which released an annual ranking that evaluates countries on adequacy, sustainability and integrity. This year, the USA came in 14th place with a C grade. Denmark, Netherlands and Australia topped the list.