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Sweden mulls raising retirement age

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16:48 CET+01:00
Sweden's social insurance minister has announced that the government has appointed a new committee to investigate whether the country should consider raising the retirement age from the current 65.

"There are too many who leave before turning 65 and there are quite a few more who could work past 65 than those who do not," social insurance minister Ulf Kristersson told reporters on Tuesday, adding that he does not actually foresee Sweden maintaining a fixed retirement age in the future.

The first relatively simple step compared to other possible changes would be to increase the limit on the age an employee can legally stay at a job from 67 to 69.

"As average life expectancy rises and the material demands in old age increase, more people will have to work a bit longer than today. Otherwise, pensions will shrink," he said.

The new pension commission, whose directives have not yet ben formalised, should take a broad approach, according to Kristersson.

"We want to have a broad analysis of how people can work a little longer," he said.

Kristersson pointed out that even in the short time since the centre-right parties and the centre-left Social Democrats agreed in the 1990s to reform the country's pension system, average life expectancy for men has increased by two years and one year for women.

The analysis will also include examining whether workers should usually retire at 65, as is current practice, or whether they may wait longer before leaving the workforce.

The opposition Social Democrats say that they want to concentrate on reforms so that more people can work until they are 65 instead of retiring earlier.

"Our priority is not to raise the age limit," said Social Democrat Tomas Eneroth, vice president of the Riksdag's social insurance committee and the party's representative in the pension working group.

Eneroth thinks that the ruling Moderates and the government unfortunately locked themselves into a retirement age of 69 in the government's policy declaration.

However, he added that at the same time, he appreciates that Kristersson says he wants a broad review of the possibilities of producing more hours worked.

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