The best — and worst — countries to retire in Europe

Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Alexander Spatari | Moment | Getty Images

Moving to another country to eventually retire requires a lot of careful research and planning, taking into account social security, health care, and finances.

U.S. consultancy Mercer issues a closely-watched annual report that analyzes 47 different retirement income systems around the world — with European nations often coming out on top.

In fact, three countries have dominated the Mercer CFA Institute’s global index since 2021. Namely, Iceland (a 84.6 average), the Netherlands (a 84.4 average) and Denmark (a 81.8 average) have been considered to have the best pension systems over these past three years.

“All three have large industry funds with defined contributions from workers and employers. They have mandatory or quasi-mandatory schemes. These countries benefit from good economies of scale versus more fragmented markets like the U.K. for occupational pensions,” Eimear Walsh, Mercer’s head of investments and wealth, told CNBC.

The Netherlands got the highest overall index value (85.0) this year thanks to good benefits, a strong asset base and sound regulation, while popular European destinations such as Spain, Italy and Croatia have faced some shortcomings.  

The Mercer index is made up of three sub-categories where it rates a pension system: adequacy, sustainability and integrity.

Adequacy of income


Funded pension plans provided by the private sector also play an important role in the stability of a country’s retirement system. The Mercer index looks at whether private pension plans in countries generate enough value for members and if there’s enough confidence in the public for these programs.

Finland had the best score on integrity with a 90.9 rate in 2023. Belgium…

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The best — and worst — countries to retire in Europe

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