Driven by the emerging markets of Asia, the global retirement market is slated to grow to $46 trillion from $28 trillion by 2020, according to a new report by Allianz.

The 66% increase will come despite the current financial crisis and despite the expected slower growth of the U.S. pension system, by far the biggest retirement market in the world. According to Allianz, the emerging markets of Asia are expected to grow by 16.8% a year, reaching a total volume of $3 trillion. This is roughly the size of the United Kingdom’s current retirement market.

Meanwhile, the U.S. pension system is expected to only grow by a 3.6% compound annual growth rate due to its market size and maturity. It will still be the dominant retirement market in the world by the end of the decade with a net increase that equals the total volume of continental Western Europe today. Having a more established retirement market, the U.S. will grow at a slower rate than Asian and eastern European countries that are in the early stages of building up their individual funded pension systems, according to Katie Libbe, vice president of consumer marketing and solutions for Allianz Life. The expected 3.6% growth will put the U.S. system at $20.9 trillion by 2020—a net increase of $6.7 trillion.

“Around 2013, we expect that U.S. retirement assets will not only catch up to 2007 all time highs of more than $16.8 trillion, they will surpass those figures,” Libbe said in an email message.

The U.S. pension market experienced a 22% drop by the end of 2008 and Libbe says this has “profoundly affected” people’s attitudes and actions. More than half (52%) of those surveyed said they had cut back on entertainment and dining as a result of the downturn and 47% found ways to cut daily expenses. Several said the downturn prompted greater financial engagement with 22% watching or reading more financial news and another 15% reported paying greater attention to the "fine print."

 Most significantly, the downturn caused a seismic shift in how people viewed retirement planning, Libbe noted. More than half (51%) now realize that a comfortable retirement is not guaranteed. Forty-six percent felt that protecting the security of their assets was "much more important now." And almost a third (30%) wanted to provide themselves with a "new level of certainty" about their financial future.


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