“The pensions scheme isn’t based on magic. It is a welfare ambition based on large-scale re-distribution and citizens’ own work. If people think that we can live longer and shorten our work life, then pensions will get lower,” Reinfeldt said in an interview with daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).
According to Reinfeldt, the expectation to retire at 65 is a problem in Sweden today.
He thinks that Swedes may have to stretch their working life to 75 years of age in order to keep the same living standard. Not many would be willing to sacrifice the way they live, he said to the paper.
“Are people on a large scale willing to give this up? I think not,” he said.
To keep working that long, Reinfeldt isn’t ruling out that Swedes would need to have more than one career during their working life.
“It is a very challenging view. Our entire life is characterized by the idea that once we have spoken to the student career counselor, we think we are going to do the same thing our entire life,” said Reinfeldt.
But instead, Swedes need to be able to change their career at a later stage in life, said the prime minister.
He also said that student loans for those over 55 wasn’t out of the question.
“Maybe it is worth looking into that,” he told DN.
Reinfeldt also said that those who are 55+ would immediately become more attractive to employers if they were expected to work for another 20 years instead of ramping down after five to six years.
“But it is important to understand that a 30-year-old wouldn’t do the same work as a 70-year-old,” said Reinfeldt.
Sweden has a flexible retirement age, where workers can begin drawing on their pension at 61 or keep working until 67. Of Swedes over 65 years old, 7.8 percent were employed in 2010, says Statistics Sweden.
The prime minister is scheduled to host a meeting in Sweden on Wednesday with the leaders of the Nordic nations, as well as with British PM David Cameron, to discuss among other things the implications of an aging population.
Reinfeldt’s comments prompted a slew of reactions on Tuesday, with the influential Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) arguing that it was not feasible for its members to work to age 75.
“It is totally impossible right now, the average retirement age today is around 64,” LO economist Mats Morin told Dagens Nyheter’s online site.
He added however that if working conditions improved, employees could stay healthier and work longer in future.