Men still earn more than women in Sweden – but the income gap is shrinking

Men are still earning far more than women in Sweden – but the income gap is slowly shrinking.

Men still earn more than women in Sweden – but the income gap is shrinking
Are these office workers perhaps talking about the gender pay gap? Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Last year the median earned income for women was 77 percent of men's median income, a slight increase from a 72 percent share in 1999, according to national numbers office Statistics Sweden.

This is because women's incomes have been rising at a faster rate than that of men in the past couple of decades, with women's incomes gaining on men's incomes in 268 out of 290 municipalities.

The towns that have seen the reverse effect are usually places that have either experienced a booming economy in a male-dominated industry, such as northern Swedish mining hubs Kiruna and Gällivare, or places where the overall income level is low which affects women the hardest, such as Stockholm suburbs.

READ ALSO: High earners and men are the winners of Sweden's new budget

On the opposite end of the scale, women's incomes saw the biggest gain on men's incomes in Bjurholm, west of Umeå in northern Sweden, where they increased by 44 percent, compared with 25 percent for men's incomes.

The Statistics Sweden report did not say why Bjurholm saw such an increase, but noted when contacted by The Local that it is Sweden's smallest municipalities, so it is possible it may be more affected by minor changes such as one large company suddenly employing more women than before.

READ ALSO: These graphs show exactly how much men and women earn across Sweden

Women had an annual median income of 251,113 kronor ($25,472) last year, according to preliminary statistics, while men earned 327,875 kronor.

Here's a list of the Swedish municipalities with the largest median value increase in earned income in 2000-2018 (source: Statistics Sweden):


Lomma: 55 percent

Härryda: 53 percent

Tjörn: 53 percent

Ydre: 52 percent

Öckerö: 52 percent

Aneby: 52 percent

Varberg: 52 percent

Hammarö: 51 percent

Lekeberg: 50 percent

Kungsbacka: 50 percent


Solna: 47 percent

Gällivare: 47 percent

Kiruna: 44 percent

Vaxholm: 44 percent

Varberg: 43 percent

Lomma: 42 percent

Lekeberg: 41 percent

Kungsbacka: 41 percent

Krokom: 41 percent

Stenungsund: 40 percent

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Pensions in the EU: What you need to know if you’re moving country

Have you ever wondered what to do with your private pension plan when moving to another European country?

Pensions in the EU: What you need to know if you're moving country

This question will probably have caused some headaches. Fortunately a new private pension product meant to make things easier should soon become available under a new EU regulation that came into effect this week. 

The new pan-European personal pension product (PEPP) will allow savers to take their private pension with them if they move within the European Union.

EU rules so far allowed the aggregation of state pensions and the possibility to carry across borders occupational pensions, which are paid by employers. But the market of private pensions remained fragmented.

The new product is expected to benefit especially young people, who tend to move more frequently across borders, and the self-employed, who might not be covered by other pension schemes. 

According to a survey conducted in 16 countries by Insurance Europe, the organisation representing insurers in Brussels, 38 percent of Europeans do not save for retirement, with a proportion as high as 60 percent in Finland, 57 percent in Spain, 56 percent in France and 55 percent in Italy. 

The groups least likely to have a pension plan are women (42% versus 34% of men), unemployed people (67%), self-employed and part-time workers in the private sector (38%), divorced and singles (44% and 43% respectively), and 18-35 year olds (40%).

“As a complement to public pensions, PEPP caters for the needs of today’s younger generation and allows people to better plan and make provisions for the future,” EU Commissioner for Financial Services Mairead McGuinness said on March 22nd, when new EU rules came into effect. 

The scheme will also allow savers to sign up to a personal pension plan offered by a provider based in another EU country.

Who can sign up?

Under the EU regulation, anyone can sign up to a pan-European personal pension, regardless of their nationality or employment status. 

The scheme is open to people who are employed part-time or full-time, self-employed, in any form of “modern employment”, unemployed or in education. 

The condition is that they are resident in a country of the European Union, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein (the European Economic Area). The PEPP will not be available outside these countries, for instance in Switzerland. 

How does it work?

PEPP providers can offer a maximum of six investment options, including a basic one that is low-risk and safeguards the amount invested. The basic PEPP is the default option. Its fees are capped at 1 percent of the accumulated capital per year.

People who move to another EU country can continue to contribute to the same PEPP. Whenever a consumer changes the country of residence, the provider will open a new sub-account for that country. If the provider cannot offer such option, savers have the right to switch provider free of charge.  

As pension products are taxed differently in each state, the applicable taxation will be that of the country of residence and possible tax incentives will only apply to the relevant sub-account. 

Savers who move residence outside the EU cannot continue saving on their PEPP, but they can resume contributions if they return. They would also need to ask advice about the consequences of the move on the way their savings are taxed. 

Pensions can then be paid out in a different location from where the product was purchased. 

Where to start?

Pan-European personal pension products can be offered by authorised banks, insurance companies, pension funds and wealth management firms. 

They are regulated products that can be sold to consumers only after being approved by supervisory authorities. 

As the legislation came into effect this week, only now eligible providers can submit the application for the authorisation of their products. National authorities have then three months to make a decision. So it will still take some time before PEPPs become available on the market. 

When this will happen, the products and their features will be listed in the public register of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA). 

For more information: 

This article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.