Half of Sweden’s cleaners now foreign: study

Almost every other cleaner and one in three doctors in Sweden was foreign-born in 2012, statistics published on Thursday revealed. Many immigrant doctors lived together, while truck drivers often ended up with nurses.

Half of Sweden's cleaners now foreign: study
An Iraqi-born doctor in Stockholm. File photo: Bertil Enevåg Ericson/TT
Around 70 percent of the foreign-born cleaners in Sweden were women in 2012, and with men included, foreign-born cleaners in Sweden made up 47 percent of Sweden's cleaning workforce. Among doctors, immigrant men and women were equally represented, together making up nearly half the number of Swedish medical doctors practising in Sweden, or around a third of the total number of doctors in the country.
Fourteen percent of the Swedish workforce in 2012 was made up of foreign-born employees, Statistics Sweden, the official statistics bureau in Sweden, said on Thursday. The most common job among immigrants was working as a home-care assistant – a sector which employed 35,000 foreign-born employees and 117,700 people born inside Sweden. 
While an estimated 15 percent of people living in Sweden are foreign-born, they were disproportionately represented among cleaners, making up almost half of the workforce. The figures showed that 34,000 foreign-born workers called cleaning their profession in 2012, while 38,000 people born in Sweden worked in the same field.
Other popular jobs for immigrants were assistant nurses – 31,000 – and helpers in restaurants at just over 19,000.
When it came to immigrant couples, the most popular job combination was two doctors, with a total of 3,300 couples in Sweden in 2012 both working in the field. The second most popular combination among couples, defined as those married, registered as partners (sambo), or living together with kids, was a truck driver and a nurse.
In terms of self-employed immigrants, hairdressers and beauticians were the most popular professions, followed by cab drivers.

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Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

A reader got in touch to ask how long he had to work in Sweden before he was eligible for a pension. Here are Sweden's pension rules, and how you can get your pension when the time comes.

Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

The Swedish pension is part of the country’s social insurance system, and it can seem like a confusing beast at times. The good news is that if you’re living and working here, you’ll almost certainly be earning towards a pension, and you’ll be able to get that money even if you move elsewhere before retirement.

You will start earning your Swedish general pension, or allmän pension, once you’ve earned over 20,431 kronor in a single year, and – for almost all kinds of pension in Sweden – there is no time limit on how long you must have lived in Sweden before you are eligible.

The exception is the minimum guarantee pension, or garantipension, which you can receive whether you’ve worked or not. To be eligible at all for this, you need to have lived in Sweden for a period of at least three years before you are 65 years old. 

“There’s a limit, but it’s a money limit,” Johan Andersson, press secretary at the Swedish Pension Agency told The Local about the general pension. “When you reach the point that you start paying tax, you start paying into your pension.”

“But you have to apply for your pension, make sure you get in touch with us when you want to start receiving it,” he said.

Here’s our in-depth guide on how you can maximise your Swedish pension, even if you’re only planning on staying in Sweden short-term.

Those who spend only a few years working in Sweden will earn a much smaller pension than people who work here for their whole lives, but they are still entitled to something – people who have worked in Sweden will keep their income pension, premium pension, supplementary pension and occupational pension that they have earned in Sweden, even if they move to another country. The pension is paid no matter where in the world you live, but must be applied for – it is not automatically paid out at retirement age.

If you retire in the EU/EEA, or another country with which Sweden has a pension agreement, you just need to apply to the pension authority in your country of residence in order to start drawing your Swedish pension. If you live in a different country, you should contact the Swedish Pensions Agency for advice on accessing your pension, which is done by filling out a form (look for the form called Ansök om allmän pension – om du är bosatt utanför Sverige).

The agency recommends beginning the application process at least three months before you plan to take the pension, and ideally six months beforehand if you live abroad. It’s possible to have the pension paid into either a Swedish bank account or an account outside Sweden.

A guarantee pension – for those who live on a low income or no income while in Sweden – can be paid to those living in Sweden, an EU/EEA country, Switzerland or, in some cases, Canada. This is the only Swedish pension which is affected by how long you’ve lived in Sweden – you can only receive it if you’ve lived in the country for at least three years before the age of 65.

“The guarantee pension is residence based,” Andersson said. “But it’s lower if you haven’t lived in Sweden for at least 40 years. You are eligible for it after living in Sweden for only three years, but it won’t be that much.”