Regardless of where you live in the Western World, whether it's the UK, USA, or any other European Country, every adult is taught or advised to save towards their retirement. However, with most people not seriously considering this until their mid to late 30's insufficient provision is made in the majority of cases for individuals to have a 'reasonable income' when they give up work.
Many have relied on their Company Pension Schemes (which was OK with job stability - which now no longer exists).
Others decided to rely on the State Pension Scheme (where it exists) only to be disappointed when they find that there are insufficient funds to pay what is due. The problems in simple terms are that people are saving too little, too late, in schemes that have to grow at unachievable rates to pay the benefits of an increasingly aged population.
To exemplify this, the USA in particular has 3 potential disasters facing its old age pensioners:
The Social Security Trust Fund is under funded. With an increasingly elderly population and the world economic crises, the options available over the coming years are: lower payments, raising of the minimum ages for eligibility to collect benefits, or a hike in taxes.
Pension Plans - many Corporations and Government entities still have outstanding pension obligations. The problem is that these obligations cannot be met with existing resources. It is estimated that 94% of corporate pension plans are under-funded and since most have been using an 8% future average return which, in the current economic climate, has been impossible to achieve.
Company Sponsored 401k Plans - have proven too flexible - An investor in them has the option to take out loans on his/her retirement savings or cash out a portion completely to deal with life emergencies. And this easy-to-use ability can prove disastrous for someone responsible for funding their own retirement - often leaving precious little to serve the purpose on which the plan was set out for in the first place.