Few Swedes ready to work until they’re 75: poll

An overwhelming majority of Swedes disagree with Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt's suggestion that workers should be ready to stay on the job until they are 75, a new poll shows.

Few Swedes ready to work until they're 75: poll
A file image of a worker at a Volvo Cars assembly plant

In a survey carried out by the Novus polling firm for Sweden’s TV4, 73 percent answered no when asked if they thought Sweden’s retirement age should be raised to 75.

Twenty percent of those polled supported the idea, while 7 percent were uncertain.

“It’s too long. If someone’s been working since they were 18, then it’s enough to work until they’re 65,” worker Stefan Nyman told TV4 when asked if he could imagine to work until he was 75.

The survey comes following comments by Reinfeldt, published on Tuesday in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper, in which the prime minister said Sweden’s workers shouldn’t expect to be able to retire at 65.

“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,” he told DN.

Reinfeldt went on to say that Swedes may have to stretch their working life to 75 years of age if they want to maintain the same standard of living as while working.

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, according to Statistics Sweden.

On Tuesday union representatives slammed the proposal, arguing that it was not feasible for workers to stay on the job until the age of 75.

According to the Novus/TV4 poll, women are more negative (81 percent) toward working until 75 than men (65 percent).

In addition, 86 percent of blue collar workers were opposed to the idea, compared with 72 percent of white collar workers.

Only 7 percent of those polled thought Sweden’s retirement age should be raised to 75 or above, while 43 percent thought 70 was an appropriate retirement age and 44 percent supported a retirement age of 67.

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Sweden to increase retirement age from next year

A proposal for changes to Sweden’s pensions system could see incremental increases to retirement age beginning next year.

Sweden to increase retirement age from next year
Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

The proposal for reform to state pensions has been agreed on by parties on both sides of the political aisle, reflecting the political agreement which provided for the new Swedish government.

Later retirement age has been justified by the claim that people in Sweden “live longer and healthier lives”, but the last twelve years of life remain characterised by illness and failing health, news agency TT writes.

According to the proposal, the minimum age at which a state pension may be drawn will increase next year from 61 to 62 years. The right to retain employment, the so-called LAS age, will also be increased, from 67 to 68 years.

“We see a problem with the fact that people who want to continue working are not able to. We will now give people the opportunity to do that,” said Mats Persson of the Liberal party, who was part of the parliamentary group behind the proposal.

In 2023, retirement ages will increase again, with the minimum state pension age changing to 63 and the LAS age to 69. The so-called guaranteed pension, which is paid to those who have had little or no pension-qualifying income during their working lives, will also see an increased age limit from 65 to 66 years.

2026 will see further extensions, to 64 years and 67 years for the regular and guaranteed pensions respectively.

In a press statement, the government wrote that longer and healthier lives made the reforms to retirement age possible. Average life expectancy in Sweden has been found to increase by 3.5 hours every day.

But longer life expectancy does not necessarily correspond to better health in senior years, according to research.

International studies led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and the University of Washington recently found that Swedes have relatively high life expectancy – just under 82 years for both women and men – but that years with good health are considerably fewer, at just under 70 years.

Sweden fell outside of the top ten for countries with the most years of good health, the study found. Japan was the best-performing country, followed by Singapore, Andorra, Iceland and Cyprus.

The pensions proposal could therefore mean that retirement years will become increasingly unlikely to contain many years in which senior citizens can enjoy good health.

Persson told TT he disagreed with that conclusion.

“This agreement is based on the fact that we live longer as well as healthier lives. There is research to support that,” he said.

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