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Report: Swedish pensioners best off in Europe

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17:00 CEST+02:00
As political parties battle it out for grey vote ahead of the upcoming elections by promising the largest tax cuts, a report by finance firm AMF shows that Swedish pensioners enjoy the best financial situation in Europe.

Even without the tax cuts, the situation for pensioner groups is improving with them suffering lower rates of financial deprivation than other groups in society.

The proportion of pensioners with low economic standards has fallen steadily since 2000, when it was about 7 percent. By 2007, the figure had fallen sharply to only 2 percent.

In the same time period, among the general population, the figure increased over the years from 8 percent to just under 15 percent, according to the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs.

"The group of pensioners is not so easy to describe," said Gunilla Nyström, private economist at SEB. "Among them are older women who have not worked full-time and now live on social security and housing supplements."

"At the same time, pensioners own a very large proportion of the Swedish people's total wealth. As such, there are pensioners who in principle do not own anything and have very low incomes and there are pensioners who have a very good pension and significant assets."

From an international perspective, Swedish pensioners are doing very well. According to a statement made in 2008 by AMF, Swedish pensioners and their Austrian counterparts actually had the best living conditions in Europe. Moreover, the Swedish pensioners were happier than the Austrians, according to the survey.

However, the Swedish National Pensioners' Organisation (Pensionärernas riksorganisation, PRO) claims that pensioners have slipped behind - at least at the individual level.

According to a report by the PRO, the real wages of workers have increased by 40 percent over the past 15 years, while those of pensioners in principle has remained flat.

"This is a development that will not end unless something radical is not done," said Maja Fröman, information director at PRO.

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