The typical American receives just 45 percent of his preretirement wage through Social Security, according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. By contrast, a worker in Denmark, which has one of the most comprehensive and generous retirement arrangements in the world, can retire with a state pension that is 91 percent of his salary.“The financial crisis hasn’t affected me,” says Jens Erik Soerensen, a 63-year-old in Hellerup, Denmark, who works as a researcher at Chempilots, a Danish company that develops polymers for use in the medical device industry.
Mr. Soerensen has calculated that when he retires, the combined disposable income that he has with his wife (Lone, also 63, who retired this year from her job in TV production) will fall by about 20 percent. The couple will also continue to benefit from universal health coverage.
“I think we can survive without changing our lifestyle, at least until 75,” he said. After that, he might have to dip into personal savings.Of course, such a system comes with tradeoffs. To help pay for generous state pensions, Danish workers have one of the highest tax burdens. The population is also aging, meaning that there will be fewer working people to pay for the pensions and care of a graying society.
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