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Chart of the Week: The best place in the world to retire is...

Iceland is the best country in the world to retire, according to Natixis Investment Managers’ latest Global Retirement Index.

It leapfrogged Switzerland, which topped last year’s ranking, with a score of 83%, while Norway came third.

The Netherlands dropped from 10th to 11th, while the UK maintained 17th spot out of 44 countries assessed.

Ireland jumped from seventh to fourth, and has improved its score by four percentage points since 2017 when it ranked 14th, according to the Natixis survey.



Natixis and information and analysis company CoreData assessed 44 countries using 18 indicators. These were split into four “sub-indices”, scoring each country on:

  • the overall health of the population (including life expectancy and health expenditure);
  • quality of life (covering environmental factors such as pollution and sanitation);
  • retirement finances (including real interest rates, inflation and age dependency ratio); and
  • “material wellbeing”, which takes into account income per capita, income equality and unemployment.

“Retirement security is a complex, multi-dimensional issue and there will be no single solution to the problem of ensuring that, after a life of work, individuals can live with dignity in retirement,” Natixis said in its report.

“With the Global Retirement Index, it is our goal to initiate a dialogue with policy makers, employers, individuals, and the financial industry about how to best address the needs of retirees for generations to come.”

Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik, Iceland

Credit: Marcel Prueske

Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik, Iceland

In its report, Natixis said Iceland had improved its scores for retirement finances and health, while topping the ranking for material wellbeing. It improved its scores on government debt, interest rates and inflation, and secured top-10 rankings for income equality, income per capita, and unemployment.

Switzerland’s high score – driven by strong health-related ratings – was tempered by a weaker employment score. Norway’s financial ratings were holding it back from top spot in the overall index, Natixis said, with taxation, inflation, government debt and old-age dependency scores all falling year-on-year.

The UK’s score slipped slightly to 72%, from 73% last year. The report stated that the country’s negative real interest rate, tax pressures, income equality and government indebtedness were all among the negative factors affecting the score. However, the UK ranked in the top 10 for quality of life and was second for biodiversity, with only Germany scoring better.

The risers…

The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Credit: E Mersinger

The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Ireland registered improvements in its health and finances scores, pushing it up three places compared to last year’s ranking. 

“The country’s improved performance in finances is powered by higher scores for bank non-performing loans and government indebtedness,” the report stated. “While the country ranks seventh-worst among all GRI countries for bank non-performing loans, it maintains a top 10 finish in the tax pressure indicator.”

An improving employment rate helped Denmark rise from eighth to seventh, Natixis said. It ranked first for quality of life, and posted top-three scores for air quality and happiness, the latter measured by the UN’s World Happiness Report.

… and fallers

Sweden dropped two places year-on-year, with Natixis citing financial factors such as its old-age dependency ratio and high levels of taxation.

Amsterdam at night

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

A lower life expectancy score along with falling environmental and happiness ratings proved a drag on the Netherlands overall position in the index. While it scored 76% overall, the same as in 2018, it dropped from 10th to 11th in Natixis’ rankings.

Poor environmental factors – with the exception of air quality – were behind Australia’s fall from sixth to ninth, with old-age dependency, taxation and interest rates also dragging down its score.

Belgium also dropped three places to 21st, with Natixis citing near-zero interest rates, tax pressures, government indebtedness and old-age dependency.

Natixis’ Global Retirement Index: the top 25

Natixis’ Global Retirement Index: the full ranking
Country 2019 rank 2019 score2018 rank (score) 2017 rank (score)
 Iceland 183% 2 (84%) 3 (82%)
 Switzerland 283% 1 (84%) 2 (84%)
 Norway 380% 3 (81%) 1 (86%)
 Ireland 478% 7 (77%) 14 (74%)
 New Zealand 578% 5 (78%) 5 (80%)
 Sweden 677% 4 (78%) 4 (80%)
 Denmark 777% 8 (77%) 8 (77%)
 Canada 877% 9 (77%) 11 (76%)
 Australia 977% 6 (78%) 6 (78%)
 Luxembourg 1076% 11 (76%) 10 (76%)
 Netherlands 1176% 10 (76%) 9 (77%)
 Finland 1275% 12 (75%) 12 (76%)
 Germany 1375% 13 (75%) 7 (77%)
 Czech Republic 1475% 15 (74%) 16 (72%)
 Austria 1574% 14 (74%) 13 (75%)
 Israel 1673% 19 (72%) 20 (71%)
 UK 1772% 17 (73%) 18 (72%)
 US 1872% 16 (73%) 17 (72%)
 Slovenia 1971% 23 (70%) 24 (68%)
 Malta 2071% 20 (71%) 21 (70%)
 Belgium 21 71% 18 (73%) 15 (73%)
 France 22 70% 21 (70%) 19 (71%)
 Japan 23 70% 22 (70%) 22 (70%)
 South Korea 2468% 24 (69%) 23 (68%)
 Slovakia 2567% 25 (66%) 25 (66%)

Other European countries in the index

Other European countries
Country 2019 rank 2019 score 
 Estonia 26 67%
 Poland 27 66%
 Portugal 29 64%
 Italy 30 63%
 Spain 31 63%
 Hungary 32 62%
 Cyprus 33 61%
 Lithuania 34 60%
 Latvia 35 57%
 Russia 38 48%
 Turkey 40 44%
 Greece 41 40%

Related images

  • Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik, Iceland

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