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Happiness and Quality of Life Drop for U.S. Retirees in Global Survey

There are plenty of categories in which Americans can proudly wave the flag and say, “We’re number one!” Unfortunately, retirement may not be one of them. In fact, in a global survey encompassing 43 nations worldwide, the U.S.A. doesn’t even make the Top Ten in happiness and quality of life among retirees.

That’s the conclusion from this penetrating article that appeared just a few days ago on Fox Business News. According to a report just released by Natixis Global Asset Management, the United States dropped 3 more places on the 2017 edition of the Global Retirement Index, or GRI, placing us at number 17. This is the fifth such survey compiled by Natixis. With a score of 72 out of a possible 100, the American score puts us right in the same ballpark as France, the United Kingdom and Belgium, but well below retirement powerhouses Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Sweden and New Zealand. Canada ranked number 11.

There were a few key factors that accounted for our relatively poor showing. Income inequality (the gap between various income levels) worsened in the U.S., as did our relatively poor showing in the area of life expectancy. That latter category is surprising since as a nation we spend more per capita on health care than any other country in the survey.  In reporting on this story, Bloomberg notes with some irony that “The mismatch suggests U.S. health expenditures ‘may not be yielding the same return on investment’ achieved by top-ranked countries for longevity, such as Japan, the survey diplomatically noted.”

But what accounts for the decline in the more subjective measure of “happiness” among American retirees? Fox Business News and Bloomberg suggest that economic uncertainty is a big factor, combined with the reality that many retirees in this country have failed to save adequately, making their sense of unease even more acute. Financial expert Chris Hogan told Fox Business News that our society has done a generally poor job in helping people learn how to plan for their retirement future. “Retirement and financial education has not been a priority in our educational system,” said Hogan.  “Too many Americans enter the workforce not understanding how money works. So, while they are working hard to make money, there is no understanding of having a clear plan for that money.”

One major theme of the Global Retirement Index was what Bloomberg called “challenges to retirement security” as seniors live longer. “A deficit of younger workers paying into retirement systems for older workers is a dilemma faced across the developed world,” writes Bloomberg. This is certainly true in the U.S. where Americans are finding themselves forced to live longer on less income and meager savings.

Retirement expert Chris Hogan explained the problem to Fox Business News. “Social Security was put in place in the 1930s when people weren’t living as long,” he said. “The average lifespan now is 89. That means people can retire and draw Social Security for 20 or 30 years! Not to mention, because so many haven’t planned properly for retirement, they’re relying on Social Security as their sole means of income in retirement. So they’re living below the poverty line, which has a direct influence on their quality of life.” While we’re not certain about the accuracy of Hogan’s estimate of life expectancy, which seems much higher than any other similar estimate we’ve read, he does have a point. Too many seniors are saving too little for their retirement, so they are relying on a government system whose reserves are only sufficient to maintain current funding for another few decades or less. Finding the political will in Washington, DC to solve this predicament remains extremely elusive.

Here at AgingOptions, we share this article about declining levels of retiree quality of life as a cautionary tale. The warning is twofold – you need to prepare comprehensively for your own retirement and you can’t wait for someone else to do it for you. Rajiv Nagaich puts it quite simply. “You should not wait for the government or large corporations to look out for you when you should look to yourself,” he says. “You can’t change others, but you have the power to manage your own actions and decisions.”  We want our clients, seminar guests and radio listeners to know that any responsible senior, properly informed, has the power to create a strong retirement plan that covers all the critical elements of a secure and fruitful future. Most other retirement planning approaches are literally rigged to fail you if you’re not properly armed with the right information. That’s why you need a full understanding of the power of LifePlanning from AgingOptions.

What makes LifePlanning different from every other form of retirement planning? Unlike most inadequate plans which deal only with finances, a LifePlan takes all the critical facets of retirement into account: financial security, legal preparation, housing plans, medical coverage, and family communication. With your LifePlan in place, all these pieces are woven together into a seamless whole. You’ll be able to protect your assets, avoid becoming a burden to those you love, and escape the trap of being forced into an institution against your will – no matter what the politicians decide to do about Social Security!

Come find out more at an AgingOptions LifePlanning Seminar near you. It’s a wonderful way to get your questions answered – and there’s no cost or obligation whatsoever. You’ll find dates, times, locations and online registration by clicking here, or feel free to call us during the week so we can assist you by phone.

Let AgingOptions guide you into the retirement you’ve dreamed of. It will be our pleasure to serve you.

(originally reported at www.foxbusiness.com)