Wry & Dry

Australia's ranking in the global retirement index is...

... good in parts.*

Other parts are, well, okay.

W&D always approaches global rankings with misgivings.  The position is merely a country's rank in a subject that has been reduced to a numerical expression.  Accountants, actuaries and auditors love anything that can be reduced to a number.

Objective measures are okay, as long as the measure matches the intended interpretation.  For example, the 2016 Natixis Global Retirement Index was published earlier this week.  Australia finished a creditable 6th (a position boosted by our very strong score in the 'Finances in retirement' sub-section, where we ranked equal second).


But a major component of the sub-index 'Health Index' is health expenditure per capita.  This is indeed an objective measure.  Divide the total health expenditure in a country by the population and you get... health expenditure per capita.  W&D argues that you do not get a reasonable measure of 'health'.

The US has the highest global ranking in the measure, with some $8,700 per person spent on health each year.

Australia comes in 14th place with $3,860.

Yet most commentators would argue that the US has a very poor health system for such a rich country.  Whereas Australia is seen as one of the exemplars.

Health rankings

W&D ponders that the retirement rankings would change significantly if a more sensible measure of health was applied. 

*Unlike the curate's egg, that much misunderstood saying.  The origin of the phrase is the George du Maurier (grandfather of the novelist Daphne du Maurier) cartoon "True Humility", printed in the British satirical magazine Punch, on 9th November 1895. 

Bishop: "I'm afraid you've got a bad egg, Mr Jones"; Curate: "Oh, no, my Lord, I assure you that parts of it are excellent!"  The initial meaning of the phrase, to describe something which, though partly good, was totally ruined by its bad part, is now somewhat lost.  Something which is "good in parts" is only good if the bad parts do not ruin the whole.