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Ranked: The Best and Worst Pension Plans, by Country

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The Best and Worst Pension Plans, by Country

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The Best and Worst Pension Plans Worldwide

Each year, millions of people around the world leave the workforce to retire.

But as the global population grows older, and the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates the already rising number of retirees, there is still a large degree of variance in the quality of public pension plans around the world.

Which countries have invested in robust public pension programs, and which lag behind?

This graphic, using 2021 data from Mercer CFA Institute Global Pension Index, compares retirement income systems worldwide.

How the Index Ranks Pension Plans

Because a country’s pension system is unique to its particular economic and historical context, it’s difficult to draw direct comparisons. However, there are certain elements that pension experts see as universally positive, and that lead to better financial support for older citizens.

As with previous rankings, Mercer and the CFA Institute organized these universal elements into three sub-indexes:

  • Adequacy: The base-level of income, as well as the design of a region’s private pension system.
  • Sustainability: The state pension age, the level of advanced funding from the government, and the level of government debt.
  • Integrity: Regulations and governance put in place to protect plan members.

These three measures were used to rank the pension system of 43 different countries, representing more than 65% of the world’s population. This year’s iteration of the index notably includes four new countries—Iceland, Taiwan, UAE, and Uruguay.

The Full Ranking

When it comes to the best pension plans across the globe, Iceland, the Netherlands, and Denmark have the top three systems.

CountryOverall ValueAdequacySustainabilityIntegrity
🇦🇷 Argentina41.552.727.743.0
🇦🇺 Australia75.067.475.786.3
🇦🇹 Austria53.065.323.574.5
🇧🇪 Belgium64.574.936.387.4
🇧🇷 Brazil54.771.224.171.2
🇨🇦 Canada69.869.065.776.7
🇨🇱 Chile67.057.668.879.3
🇨🇳 China55.162.643.559.4
🇨🇴 Colombia58.462.046.269.8
🇩🇰 Denmark82.081.183.581.4
🇫🇮 Finland73.371.461.593.1
🇫🇷 France60.579.141.856.8
🇩🇪 Germany67.979.345.481.2
🇭🇰 Hong Kong61.855.151.187.7
🇮🇸 Iceland84.282.784.686.0
🇮🇳 India43.333.541.861.0
🇮🇩 Indonesia50.444.743.669.2
🇮🇪 Ireland68.378.047.482.1
🇮🇱 Israel77.173.676.183.9
🇮🇹 Italy53.468.221.374.9
🇯🇵 Japan49.852.937.561.9
🇰🇷 Korea48.343.452.750.0
🇲🇾 Malaysia59.650.657.576.8
🇲🇽 Mexico49.047.354.743.8
🇳🇱 Netherlands83.582.381.687.9
🇳🇿 New Zealand67.461.862.583.2
🇳🇴 Norway75.281.257.490.2
🇵🇪 Peru55.058.844.264.1
🇵🇭 Philippines42.738.952.535.0
🇵🇱 Poland55.260.941.365.6
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia58.161.750.962.5
🇸🇬 Singapore70.773.559.881.5
🇿🇦 South Africa53.644.346.578.5
🇪🇸 Spain58.672.928.178.3
🇸🇪 Sweden72.967.873.780.0
🇨🇭 Switzerland70.065.467.281.3
🇹🇼 Taiwan51.840.851.969.3
🇹🇭 Thailand40.635.240.050.0
🇹🇷 Turkey45.847.728.666.7
🇦🇪 UAE59.659.750.272.6
🇬🇧 UK71.673.959.884.4
🇺🇾 Uruguay60.762.149.274.4
🇺🇲 U.S.61.460.963.659.2
Average61.062.251.772.1

Iceland’s system ranks high across all three sub-indexes. The country offers a state pension with two components: mandatory contributions from both employees and employers, and optional contributions to state-approved pension products.

Its system has a high contribution rate, which ultimately results in a generous state pension that retirees in Iceland can tap into. The country also has a relatively low gender pension gap, meaning the difference between the average female pension versus male pension is relatively small—especially compared to other OECD countries.

gender gap pensions oecd

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Philippines, Argentina, and Thailand scored the lowest on the ranking.

Thailand scores particularly low in the adequacy category, with a score of 35.2. To increase its score, Thailand could increase the minimum payments for its poorest demographic and include more employees in occupational pension schemes.

Recommendations for Better Pension Plans

According to the index, countries seem to be steadily improving their pension systems. From 2020 to 2021, the average score of the overall index increased by 1.0.

With an average of 60.7, the index shows that most countries’ systems have some good features, but they also have some significant shortcomings that could be addressed by the following recommendations:

  • Boosting adequacy by increasing coverage, and including more employees in private pensions systems.
  • Increasing sustainability by adjusting retirement pension age to reflect increasing life expectancy, and promoting higher workforce participation from older citizens.
  • Raise integrity by introducing policies that reduce the gender pension gap and discrepancies amongst minorities.

Countries that implement even a few of these changes could make a huge difference for their next generation of retirees—and those that don’t could be in trouble in the near future.

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Personal Finance

Mapped: Federal Tax Paid Per Capita Across Canada

We show which provinces and territories pay the most and least tax after adjusting for the number of tax filers in each jurisdiction.

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A Canadian map of federal tax paid per capita with the values for BC, Alberta, NWT, Ontario and Quebec as question marks

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The following content is sponsored by Fidelity Investments

Mapped: Federal Tax Paid Per Capita Across Canada

Which parts of Canada pay the most personal tax? In 2021, according to the latest available data, people in Ontario paid by far the greatest share: 42% of the total. Of course, Ontario is also the most populated province.

But if we look at which parts of the country paid the most and least taxes on a per capita basis, the picture looks different. In this graphic from Fidelity Investments, we show the amount paid per tax filer for each province and territory.

A Breakdown of Tax Per Person

We took the total personal federal tax paid in each province according to 2021 tax filing data from the Canada Revenue Agency. We then divided the total tax paid by the number of people filing taxes in the province. Below, we rank the provinces and territories from least to most taxes on this basis.

Province or TerritoryFederal Tax Paid Per Person
New Brunswick$4,186
Prince Edward Island$4,491
Nova Scotia$4,708
Manitoba$5,001
Newfoundland and Labrador$5,033
Quebec$5,352
Saskatchewan$5,596
Nunavut$6,314
British Columbia$6,828
Yukon$6,897
Ontario$6,969
Alberta$7,608
Northwest Territories$7,876
All of Canada$6,368

All of Canada is calculated as the total federal taxes paid in Canada divided by the total number of tax filers in Canada.

New Brunswick paid the least taxes on a per capita basis. Within the province, 13% of people worked in retail jobs, the highest proportion nationally. Retail positions in New Brunswick earned $34,000 annually on average. As a whole, 71% of people in New Brunswick earned less than $49,000 per year.

The Highest Taxes Per Capita

The Northwest Territories (NWT) paid the most taxes relative to the number of tax filers. Public administration workers made up nearly a quarter of tax filers, four times the national share of 6%. These workers, which include local, provincial, federal, and aboriginal government employees, had an average annual income of $120,000 in the NWT.

Additionally, the territory also had a relatively high proportion of people working in mining, who earned $221,000 a year on average.

However, it’s important to note that the NWT faces a high cost of living. On average, households in the capital city of Yellowknife paid 28% more for food and 47% more for shelter than the average Canadian household in 2021.

On a per person basis, Ontario paid the third highest taxes in Canada. The province had the highest proportion of finance and insurance workers, who earned $106,000 annually.

Reducing Your Taxes

Generally, a higher income leads to higher taxes. However, you can explore allowable deductions such as RRSP contributions to save more of your money.

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Use Fidelity’s income tax calculator to quickly estimate your taxes.

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