Opinion: This is the best country for retirees

America is a terrible place to retire.

At least that’s what global asset manager Natixis reports. In its latest Global Retirement Index, we rank 18th based on “retirement security”. We are ahead of Slovenia, Malta and Estonia, but the first in the rankings go above all to the Scandinavian or Germanic countries, as well as to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, South Korea South and the Czech Republic.

Norway is number 1.

It is difficult to know what weight to give to these rankings. Natixis says it calculates the figures based on 18 performance indicators. These include the obvious, such as life expectancy, uninsured health care spending, and retiree dependency ratio to assets. More obscure indicators include ‘non-performing bank loans’ and ‘biodiversity and habitat’.

In areas related to “material well-being”, according to Natixis, the leading country in the world is the Czech Republic; Malta is No. 8. The United States doesn’t even make the top 25.

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No disrespect to the great people in places like Norway, Iceland and Finland, but I think I’d rather spend my golden years somewhere like the Florida Keys.

Meanwhile, the report raises some interesting questions.

Wouldn’t it be funny (weird funny, rather than funny ha-ha) if those places that don’t want immigrants started fighting for them instead?

As the study points out, over the next two decades most of the world’s wealthy countries will face a crisis as they lack the young workers needed to support their older retirees.

Here in America, for example, we only have 3.5 people of working age – that is, between 20 and 64 – for every person over the age of 65. By 2050, we will be at 2.5 people of working age per elderly person. And we are still far better off than most other rich countries.

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China will be reduced to a ratio of 2:1, and European countries such as France and Germany will have less than 2 people of working age per elderly person. Japan, Spain and Italy will approach 1:1 ratios. In Japan, the first country to fight against this demographic crisis, there will be only about 5 people of working age for every 4 retirees by 2050.

Try to make it work.

Meanwhile, by 2050, China will have more elderly people, about 370 million of them, than America currently has people.

As previously stated here, one of the simplest, easiest, lowest risk and most rewarding policy options on planet earth is to open your doors to highly skilled immigrants.

When you talk about highly skilled immigrants, you are not talking about unskilled workers who drive down the base wages of the resident population. Biotech PhDs don’t get off the plane and start driving down other people’s salaries. They accelerate growth.

Congress seems to have no interest in doing such a thing. But then, why would it be? These legislators are not the ones who risk seeing their retirement plans shattered when Uncle Sam runs out of money.

So why should they care? It’s probably better for their careers to play politics and demagogue the issue at their base instead.

So why is Norway so outstanding in terms of retirement security? Here’s one thing that certainly helps: For decades, they’ve invested their giant national pension system in global equities, like any normal fiduciary would. Here in America, Congress is blowing our Social Security dollars on dismal Treasury bills. Yields, as expected, have been abysmal.

Related: This is what the Social Security crisis looks like

Congress could have changed that years ago. They might change it tomorrow.

But, again, why should they care? As with legal immigration, so it is with Social Security trust fund investment policy: If terrible congressional decisions leave America in a retirement crisis, it probably won’t hurt the 535 people in the House and the Senate.

Apparently, Social Security cuts, like taxes, are only for the little people.

Which explains why frozen Scandinavia may be a better place to retire even than the sunniest shores of America.

Learn how to shake up your financial routine at the Best New Ideas in Money Festival on September 21-22 in New York City. Get tips from speakers including Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, president of the Charles Schwab Foundation.

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