The report by HSBC paints a gloomy picture of sustained financial hardship and new working habits despite the world economy returning to health.
"Generating an adequate income in retirement remains a major challenge for most people, given the financial conditions created by the global economic downturn," HSBC head of wealth management Simon Williams said.
High levels of unemployment, low wage growth and depressed savings rates have pushed retirement out of reach for many in the global workforce. Ageing populations have compounded the problem as retirement funds have to cover a longer period.
Throughout the Western world people still hope to retire around the same age their parents did, despite indications they may live much longer.
The report surveyed 16,000 people in 15 countries around the world, assessing their retirement and savings outlook.
On average, people expect to retire for 18 years but have only saved enough for 10 years.
Workers in the U.K. and the U.S. face the bleakest future. In both countries about one in five say they will never be able to give up work completely. The prospects are brighter in Asia, with less than half that number in China indicating they're likely to work forever.
For those who do make it to retirement, their twilight years might not be as comfortable as they had hoped. Almost half of current retirees surveyed said they haven't been able to realize their plans - perhaps a European holiday or finally buying that boat - because they have less money to live on than they had expected.