Despite the western notion of a pension as an ideal, US corporations have en-masse frozen defined benefit plans (plans where beneficiaries are guaranteed payments in retirement), and are no longer allowing employees not already enrolled in them to participate. Instead corporations have replaced these defined benefit plans with defined contribution plans, i.e. 401ks, where it is incumbent upon beneficiaries to contribute voluntarily, and assume the rate-of-return on plan assets that is afforded by the markets.
Nonetheless, public pension plans, those administered by federal, state or local governments, are still prevalent. We believe this is one of many indicators that the western public still holds on to the notion of a pension, and fiscally secure retirement, as an ideal. That said, the flaw is that in the western world many pension plans are underfunded. The present value of their liabilities is in excess of the present value of their assets.