The Government's Role in Retirement

Americans expect less help than residents of Scandinavia and Europe do.

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Americans like to think that we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps to create our own wealth. And this image usually includes financing our own retirement to a large degree. But that's not true everywhere in the world, at least according to a massive survey of 21,000 people in 21 countries by HSBC Insurance and the Oxford Institute of Ageing.

Fewer than a quarter of those surveyed (all between 40 and 69 years of age) in the United States, Japan, Mexico, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Saudi Arabia believe that their government should bear most of the financial costs of supporting them in retirement. But in other areas of the world, folks wouldn't mind government help, as in Scandinavia (almost 65 percent), Europe (45 percent), Brazil (50 percent), and China (around 40 percent). You can see the numbers broken down by country and other interesting statistics here.

Tell us, should the government step in by mandating additional private savings, raising taxes, or increasing the retirement age? Or should diligent savers and frivolous spenders alike be left to their own devices in retirement?