The Principal Financial Group’s third study of the world’s financial health showed nearly 80% of workers thought they would be unable to pay for basic expenses in retirement.

Principal, the $149.8bn US-based financial company, in its annual Global Financial Well-Being Study found only 22% were very confident that they would have enough money to pay for basic expenses – food, shelter, and clothing – during retirement. Only 13% of French, 8% of Italian and 3% of Japanese respondents were very confident they would be able to pay for basic expenses after they retired. In the US, (as in Brazil and Chile) only 24% of respondents said they were very confident that they will be able to afford basic expenses in retirement, less optimistic than citizens of China (36%), India (36%) and the UK (28%).

Most study participants said their governments and employers were failing to do enough to ensure their retirement security. One-third of survey participants in the US, Brazil, and Italy were very or somewhat confident that government-sponsored retirement programs would continue to provide an equal level of benefits to those received by retirees today. Fewer than one in 10 Japanese (8%) said the government was doing very well or somewhat well in ensuring they have a financially secure retirement compared to about half of Chilean participants (45%).

“Governments faced with ageing populations and fast-growing deficits need to make significant changes to ensure their citizens can retire financially secure. Possible solutions include systems that mandate defined contributions (as in Chile, Mexico and Hong Kong) or ones that provide enough tax incentives to promote individual savings,” said Larry Zimpleman, president of retirement and investor services at Principal.

The lack of trust in their governments’ ability to deliver on retirement benefits was matched by participants’ scepticism about their employer’s ability to deliver on retirement benefits promised to them. This was most common in Japan, where only 36% of respondents were very or somewhat confident that they would receive the full benefits from their employers’ retirement funds. But even in countries with the highest levels of overall confidence —Hong Kong (75%) and the UK (71%) —just one-third are very confident they would receive the benefits promised.

And nearly half of the study participants completely or somewhat agreed that they had yet to plan for their retirement savings and security. The Brazilians were the least-prepared (67%) followed by those from Chile (58%), Italy (54%) and France (53%). Just under one-fourth (24%) of Americans agree that they have yet to plan for retirement, and just one-third of Germans (34%) and Hong Kong Chinese (34%) have not yet planned for retirement.

The Principal Global Financial Well-Being Study covered 12 countries: Brazil, Chile, China, France, Germany, UK, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, and the US. NOP World conducted at least 500 interviews in each country except the US.