The United States is far from the best country worldwide when it comes to retirement savings, according to an index based on data from sources including the World Bank and the United Nations.

The country boasting the best retirement system, as noted by the index? Norway, followed by Switzerland, Luxembourg, Sweden and Austria. Western European nations, backed by strong health care and retiree social programs, clearly dominated the top of the list, snagging the first 10 slots.  

While the U.S. is the world’s biggest pension market, it lags behind less affluent countries on measures of income and health, according to the index. According to a recent Senate report, the country is facing a retirement savings deficit of $6.6 trillion, or nearly $57,000 per household. As a result, 53% of American workers 30 and older are on a path that will leave them unprepared for retirement, up significantly from 38% in 2011.

“The trend is that people are going to need to take more personal responsibility for their retirement,” said Tracey Flaherty -- senior vice president for Natixis Global Asset Management, which commissioned the study -- in an interview. “The role of the financial planner in helping people figure this out cannot be underestimated.”

She continued: “We [in the U.S.] rank lower because of, not just finances in retirement, but because of health care as well. Retirement and health care are inextricably linked. Health care disproportionately affects older populations rather than younger ones ... You either read about health care finances or you read about finances in retirement, but they are really very connected.”

The findings suggest that Americans will need to pick up a bigger share of their retirement costs -- especially as the number of retirees grows and the government’s ability to support them dwindles, the index revealed. 

The Natixis Global Retirement Index evaluates 150 countries on factors including healthcare, finances, material comfort and quality of life.

See the top 20 countries in Natixis' list of nations ranked by retirement security.

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