There’s an old saying: When America sneezes, the world catches a cold.
That phrase usually refers to an economic slowdown that causes relatively large problems for other countries.
Is the same contagion applying to retirement trends?
Indeed, the changes in U.S. retirement trends that I’ve been studying and writing about for years are taking hold elsewhere in the world. A recent article by the Associated Press (AP IMPACT: The World Braces For Retirement Crisis) noted:
“Many people will be forced to work well past the traditional retirement age of 65 — to 70 or even longer. Living standards will fall, and poverty rates will rise for the elderly in wealthy countries that built safety nets for seniors after World War II.”
China, Japan, Britain and Australia are among the large countries experiencing similar problems to the U.S. when it comes to the preparations their populations are taking for the future:
— The end of traditional pension retirement plans.
— Low savings rates.
— Faltering retirement systems.
One remedy being tried in other countries is mandatory retirement savings through automatic enrollment in retirement plans. Similarly, a number of years ago an “opt out” provision for U.S. employer 401(k) plans replaced the prior “opt in” practice.
Preparing for and funding retirement will be a pressing issue for decades to come. How individuals and families — as well as employers and government leaders — in the U.S. and other countries respond will define the future. I don’t know what all the solutions are, but I’m confident that good old American ingenuity will play a positive role.
What changes do you think would improve the retirement situation in this country?
Sharon Emek, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
Work At Home Vintage Experts (WAHVE)