Countries with the longest retirement

From the revolution of 1789 to the student revolt of 1968, and the recent yellow vests movement against President Macron’s austerity that only COVID could cool, the French are fanatical in the fight for their rights.

And it’s not all for naught as they now boast one of the shortest working weeks in the world, and top the list for longest retirement. Vive la France indeed!

Read more: Push for universal part pension

But does a longer retirement equate to a better quality retirement?

France is a nation that truly values time – time for food, time for culture, time for work, time for Lupin. And with an average retirement age of 60, time for a well-earned rest. Almost a quarter of a century to enjoy the fruits of their labour.

According to an analysis of 36 countries, French men and women enjoy, on average, 24.8 years in retirement.

They collect a full pension at age 62, though OECD data shows they tend to retire earlier, at 60.8.

Close behind are their Spanish and Greek counterparts, who can expect 24.15 and 24.1 years respectively of retirement.

But Spaniards are expected to work longer than the French, with a retirement age of 65 years and 10 months, while Greece’s retirement age is even longer, at 67.

European nations dominate the top 10 of longest retirements, except for Australia, which sits ninth on the table, with 21.55 years of retirement on average.

But longer does not necessarily mean stronger. The 2020 Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index, released in October, compared the pension schemes of 39 countries, representing more than two-thirds of the world’s population.

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The index measures the adequacy, sustainability and integrity of nations’ pension schemes. Australia came in an impressive fourth, behind the Netherlands, Denmark and Israel.

The index value for each country is represented by a figure between zero and 100, with higher values signifying more favourable pension systems.

With an index value of 82.6, the Netherlands received the highest score for 2020, ranking first for the third year in a row. (This quiet achiever also enjoys the shortest working week.) Australia’s score was significantly lower than the Dutch system at 74.2.

The Dutch retirement income system combines a flat-rate public pension, semi-mandatory occupational pension linked to earnings and industrial agreements. Most Dutch workers are members of these occupational plans, which are industry-wide defined-benefit plans. Earnings are based on a lifetime average.

The index found that the Netherlands’ overall index value could be improved by: increasing household savings and reducing household debt and, increasing workforce participation among older workers as life expectancy rises.

The world’s longest retirement countries did not fare so well on the Global Pension Index, with France placing 20th with a score of 60, followed by Spain at 22 with 57.7.

Despite Australia’s high standing on both longest retirements and the Global Pension Index, our poverty rates are high compared with other OECD countries. Almost a quarter of Australia’s over-65s live in poverty, compared with just 10 per cent in New Zealand and 3 per cent in Denmark, which both have a universal, flat-rate pension regardless of assets or income.

Almost a third of working Australians worry they won’t be able to retire at 65 due to a lack of funds, according to a survey sponsored by and run by Deloitte Access Economics.

The Financial Consciousness Index (FCI) surveyed 3000 people across Australia about retirement readiness and discovered that age played a big part in attitudes.

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“Confidence in retirement outcomes changes dramatically with age, showing a clear bell curve, with gen Zs (25 to 34-year-olds) and the over-70s most bullish about their golden years. Whereas, gen Xers – and in particular the 45 to 54 year-old age group – were most concerned about their retirement,” the survey found.

Are you looking forward to or enjoying a long retirement? Is a long retirement on your wish list or do you enjoy your work and plan to put off retirement beyond Age Pension age?

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Written by Rebecca Tolan

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