S'pore no longer one of best 30 places for retirees

SINGAPORE - Singapore's attractiveness as a retirement venue has waned, slipping out of the top 30 best destinations for retirees in a new study.

Key factors dragging down the Republic's allure to the grey brigade included environmental factors such as the haze and income inequality.

The 2014 Global Retirement Index compiled by financial firm Natixis Global Asset Management placed Singapore in the 41st spot among 150 countries surveyed, down from last year's 28th.

Singapore managed an overall score of only 65 per cent, below last year's result of 72 per cent in the index. It looks at four aspects of retirement: finance, health, quality of life and material well-being.

For a country used to getting good grades for global economic and financial indicators, the country excelled in the finance element, ranking seventh.

A financial hub and one of the most prosperous nations, it was rated highly for enabling retirees to benefit from relatively low levels of inflation and limited tax pressure.

But its rating was dragged down by a poor showing in non-financial indicators.

"Recent developments have seen the welfare of (Singapore) retirees decrease relative to other nations," the report, released earlier this week, noted.

"For instance, a decrease in an already mediocre result for income equality has pushed the material well-being sub-index even lower."

Singapore ranked a poor 125th spot for income equality, worse than the previous year's 117th place.

The study took data in 2013 from the World Bank's World Development Indicators, as well as other sources like the Central Intelligence Agency world factbook.

Data available last year showed that Singapore's Gini coefficient in 2012 was 0.478, up from 0.473 the previous year, one of the most unequal among advanced economies in the world.

The Gini coefficient is a measure of income inequality with a scale from 0 to 1, with higher figures signalling a more unequal distribution of income.

Singapore's Department of Statistics announced earlier this month that the Gini coefficient fell to 0.463 last year, and would drop further to 0.412 if government transfers and taxes are taken into account.

Poor air quality and the effects of pollution also affected Singapore badly, as the country was engulfed in the worst haze in June last year.

Singapore's quality of life index, which measures the level of happiness and fulfilment in society as well as environmental factors, dropped to 75th place from 39th last year.

It also dipped in the health index, from 56th spot last year to 59th this year.

The nation did well in terms of life-expectancy, but high levels of out-of-pocket health expenditure and low numbers of physicians per capita led to the decline.

Europe seems to be the best place for retirees, hogging eight of the top 10 overall rankings. Switzerland pipped Norway to the No.1 spot, while Austria came in third.

The other two non-European nations in the top 10 were Australia in fifth place and New Zealand in ninth.

feimok@sph.com.sg

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.