A new study by AXA Financial says Americans are more confident about their retirement—and better prepared for it financially—than the citizens of other developed nations.

The study, which surveyed 9,200 people in 15 countries in North America, Western Europe and the Pacific Rim, found that this is a function of Americans’ expectation of dwindling support from the government and from employers. The movement towards privatized Social Security and defined-contribution plans “speaks to the continuing need for personal responsibility for many Americans,” says Ken Gelman, vice president and director of market research for AXA Financial. “That’s something that’s really unique to the United States.”

Indeed, 89 percent of American respondents believe retirement funding is their responsibility, rather than the government’s. Further, about 73 percent of working Americans have made preparations for retirement—the highest percentage of any of the nations surveyed. By contrast, only 24 percent of Italians, 12 percent of Japanese and 35 percent of Spaniards had done so. Americans are apt to save more as well—$687 per month, on average. The next closest savings rate was the Australians’ $522 per month. Germans saved only $313 per month, and Italians just $208.

The study looked at both working people and retired people and found that many retired Americans ended their working careers earlier than they had anticipated, thanks to layoffs or unexpected windfalls.

Other interesting findings:

  • The average American worker considers 55 the ideal retirement age, though he doesn’t think he will be able to retire until 63.
  • The average American worker considers someone “old” when he reaches 73.
  • 61 percent of American workers think their retirement income will be sufficient. Only 10 percent of Japanese workers think the same thing. The average Japanese worker does not start preparing for retirement until age 52, compared to 34 for Americans.
  • 35 percent of American workers say the first place they would go for retirement planning would be a financial advisor specializing in pensions. Four percent said “the Internet.”