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Retirement assets worldwide - statistics & facts

Retirement assets vary significantly from country to country, driven by differences in amounts of assets accumulated, the performance of the investments, and the way the assets are invested. The United States, which is the leading country in terms of pension fund assets, has retirement assets worth around ten times as much as the second largest pension market, which is the United Kingdom.

What is the size of the pension market?

The total assets of pension funds worldwide grew overall during the past decade and reached more than 56 trillion U.S. dollars in 2020, the highest value ever recorded. The drivers of asset growth in pension funds can be attributed to different factors, such as an increase in the proportion of a working-age population covered by a pension plan, or an increase in the contribution rates to the pension plans. Another reason for asset growth can be due to the performance of the pension investments, with high rates in real investment returns. In 2021, the average compound one-year growth rate of the largest pension markets was almost two percent.

The seven largest pension markets

The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Japan, and Switzerland are the seven largest pension fund markets in the world, despite their differing population and economy sizes. Relative to its own economy, the Netherlands has the largest pension market. The ratio of pension assets to the gross domestic product in the Netherlands reached over 213 percent as of 2021, making the country one the of the largest pension markets in the world, despite its relatively small size. All these large markets, except for Japan, have a ratio of pension assets to gross domestic product exceeding 100 percent. The structure of the assets in these seven countries vary widely, but most of the assets are some combination of equities and bonds in all seven. While the United States and Australia have half of their retirement assets in equities and only a smaller share in bonds, the United Kingdom and Japan have more than half of their assets in bonds, and a smaller share in equities.

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