A Personal Savings Rate by Country Comparison

I’ve been on a bit of a personal savings rate kick lately. Why, you may ask? Because this one little financial ratio is a huge predictor of not only how responsible one is with their finances, but also how quickly that person may be able to retire.

As I highlighted last week before polling readers on their own personal savings rate, the average U.S. personal savings rate has been around 5% for the last few years.

That seemed pretty darn low. And it seemed even lower after I found out that percentage includes not only take-home savings and IRA contributions, but employee AND employer retirement contributions.



Naturally, I wondered how the citizens of our fine country stacked up against other industrialized nations.

I found an interesting chart from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), that highlights past and forecasts future personal savings rates by country for 24 of the largest GDP countries that publish this statistic.

In 2013, the savings rate from the most notable countries were:

  • Australia: 11.1%
  • Canada: 5.0%
  • Germany: 9.9%
  • Ireland: 5.0%
  • Japan: 0.8%
  • France: 15.4%
  • Spain: 9.1%
  • UK: 5.8%
  • US: 3%

What can we take away from this data?

1. At Least Americans are not Dead Last

As bad as the U.S. personal saving rate looks, it’s not the worst. We came in 16th out of the 28 countries in 2013.

2. Canucks Like to Spend

Canadians have previously had a worse personal savings rate than Americans in recent years. This is in line with the data I found around U.S. vs. Canada consumer spending. Quite simply, Canadians love to spend their money on crap that they would be wise not to.

3. The Economic Impact on Personal Savings is Substantial

The U.S. personal savings rate jumped from 2.1% in 2007 (before the housing crisis) to 5.9% in 2009. I find it really interesting that when economic turmoil hits a country, personal savings rates in that country go up significantly. One has to wonder how much economies further suffer as a result of people hunkering down and reducing their spending.

4. The French Really Know how to Save

The French, who hit a 16% personal saving rate in 2010, have averaged over 15% per year since at least 2005. This makes them the most consistent savers of any industrialized country. That’s a bit surprising when you consider how high France income tax rates are (3rd highest).

5. The Danish do Not

The Danish have had a negative personal savings rate since at least 2005 and were the only country, on average, to achieve this feat in 2013. What’s the deal? Maybe their spending all of their earnings on Hasselhoff memorabilia. Oh wait, that’s Germany. No excuse, Danes.

Discussion on Personal Savings Rate by Country

  • Do some of these findings surprise you?
  • Do you feel better or worse about the U.S. personal savings rate after seeing this.
  • What do you think the average personal savings rate should be in the U.S.?

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