List of topical issues

This year, Finland ranked seventh in the international Global Pension Index comparison. Although the country’s overall index value rose from 2020, Finland dropped two notches as Iceland and Norway passed it on the score board. Once again, the Finnish pension system was ranked the most transparent and reliable pension system in the world.

The Mercer CFA Institute Global Pension Index (MCGPI) is an annually compiled international comparison of pension schemes. Carried out for the thirteenth time this year, the comparison has expanded considerably to include 43 retirement income systems that offer pensions to more than four billion people.  

Although Finland’s overall index value improved slightly from 2020, the country dropped two notches and now ranks seventh.  

Iceland, which participated in the comparison for the first time this year, took the top position. Second and third positions were taken by the Netherlands and Denmark, both of which have always been among the top three.  

Iceland’s success was to be expected. Like the pension systems in Denmark and the Netherlands, the Icelandic pension system is fully funded. In addition, the Icelanders have long working careers: the retirement age is 67 years and the employment rate of the older population is high. The minimum pension is also at a good level. 

Once again, the Nordic countries ranked well in the comparison: all five welfare states are among the top 10 countries. 

“Comparing neighbouring countries is always interesting. Slightly surprisingly, Norway ranked last among the Nordic countries in sustainability. Less surprising was that Sweden ranked last among the Nordic countries in pension adequacy. Finland ranked fourth among the Nordic countries in both sub-indices,” explains head of planning Ismo Risku (Finnish Centre for Pensions). 

Finland’s assets: reliable and simple pension system 

The MCGPI assesses the pension schemes of various countries using adequacy, sustainability and integrity as sub-indices. 

For the eight time in a row, Finland received the highest index value in the sub-index integrity (reliable and transparent governance). 

From a citizens’ point of view, the Finnish pension system is straightforward and transparent. The accrued pension follows despite change of workplace, and the accrued amount can be checked at any time on the pension record. 

“Finland and Norway are at the top in terms of governance. Denmark and Sweden, on the other hand, fall outside the top 10 in that sub-index. In those two countries, pensions are more complex than in Finland and Norway”, says liaison manager Mika Vidlund (Finnish Centre for Pensions).  

Employment rate among the older population lags behind compared to the other Nordic countries 

MCGPI lists the following as means to increase the overall index value for the Finnish pension system: raising minimum pensions, raising the level of household saving, increasing the funded component of pension contributions and improving the labour force participation rate of the older population. 

The employment rate of 55–64-year-olds has increased significantly in Finland – by 10 per cent in the last decade. This aside, it is still clearly below the level of the other Nordic countries. For example, in 2020, the employment rate among the older population in Sweden was 77 per cent, which is nearly 10 percentage points higher than in Finland (68%). 

The Mercer CFA Institute Global Pension Index top 10 countries in an Excel file

Theme year 2021: Gender differences in pension outcomes

  • In 2021, the Mercer CFA Institute Global Pension Index (MCGPI) paid special attention to gender differences in pensions.
  • Finland ranked among the top one third in terms of gender equality when comparing gender differences in pensions in the OECD34 countries.
  • We ranked higher than, among others, Norway and Sweden in this respect.
  • In Finland, women’s pensions are 23 per cent lower than men’s.
  • The smallest gender difference can be found in Estonia (less than 5%), but nearly half of all pension recipients in that country are people with a low income.
  • The largest gender difference in pensions (nearly 50%) can be found in Japan.


Finnish Centre for Pensions – Central body of and expert on statutory earnings-related pensions