The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development analysed the state of pension assets in its 30 member countries, which include the US, the UK, Australia and other democratic nations.
Its findings show that by October 2008, the total assets of private pension plans in OECD countries had declined by about £3.38trn, or nearly 20 per cent of their value compared to December 2007 when their assets stood at nearly £19trn.
Two thirds of the losses are estimated to be in the United States alone with the UK, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan accounting on aggregate for a further £0.8trn drop in asset values.
Pension funds, which account for most private pension assets, have been hit hardest in OECD countries where equities make up over a third of total assets invested. Irish pension funds experienced the worst investment performance, losing just over 30 per cent of their value.