The general image of a retirement age at 65 is problematic according to Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. In an interview with the daily Dagens Nyheter, (see article here) Reinfeldt argues that a working life could as well continue until an age of 75. This in order to uphold the desireble pension in Sweden.
Tomorrow (on Wednesday) Fredrik Reinfeldt will be host at the meeting Northern Future Forum. Among the participators are the prime ministers from the Nordic countries, the Baltic states and Prime Minister of Great Britain, David Cameron.
They will discuss ideas on how older people may have a place on the future labour market. Every second child who is born today is expected to reach the age of hundred years. This is according to Prime Minister Reinfeldt a great structural change that we have not yet fully understood.
Fredrik Reinfeldt says that people should be prepared to support themselves futher up in their age:
"If people believe that we can live longer and shorten our working life, the pension will for sure be reduced. The next question is then; are people prepared for that. In most cases I don't think so", Reinfeldt said to Dagens Nyheter.
In order to have energy for a longer working life, Reinfeldt argues that everybody should be prepared to change carrier-path. He even opens up for the possibility to get study grants also after the age of 54. Moreover he argues that 55-year olds would be more attractive on the labour market if the employers expect them to work for some 20 more years instead of slowing down after five years and retire in ten years.
Criticism from several parties
Tomas Eneroth, the Social Democrats' spokesperson in pensions issues thinks that Reinfeldt's ideas are provocative.
"Today, many people in the working life are worn out long before 65 and moreover, the government's policy has led to a situation where many people has no safety net if they are seriously ill", says Eneroth according to public broadcaster Sveriges Television.
Josefin Brink from the Left Party finds Reinfeldt's proposal very provocative:
"The proposal to raise the retirement age to 75 years is to be honest not very serious. This considering the fact that so many on the Swedish labour market do not have the possibiity to work the whole way until 65. If there is a concern on how to finance the future welfare in Sweden, the first thing to do is to do something about the high unemployment", Brink says according to Svenska Dagbladet.
Also the Greens are critical. Gunvor G Ericson from the parliamentary committee for social affairs claims that Reinfeldt has ignored several factors:
"He totally forgets the gender equality aspect and the efforts to improve the work environment. If you really want to have a long-term and sustainable pension system it has to be both economically and socially sustainable. (...) Women are already getting lower pension than men today as a result of their generally lower wages. To demand that they must work for a longer time in order to keep the same economic standard is indirectly what Reinfeldt says. More influence and power is at least as important for success. You cannot just talk about one side of the issue to reach a long-term solution", Ericson says according to Svenska Dagbladet.
Jimmie Åkesson, leader of the Sweden Democrats (nationalist) is also critical but not against the idea that people should have the right to work longer but rather to the scenario of a general raise of the retirement age.
"To say that people should work until they are 75 in the situation that we have today is provoking for many people on the labour market I think. We must get better when it comes to using the experience of older people and it is a good thing if those who want to may continue to work after 67. I am not against a discussion on the current 67 year's limit but it is important to underline that there must be no compulsary rule to work longer than 65", Åkesson says to Svenska Dagbladet.
Coalition parties cautiously positive
The coalition parties are not as critical to the idea but are more skeptical towards a new retirement age but more of new possibilities to work longer on a volontary basis.
Ulf Nilsson from the Liberal People's Party:
"Our opinion is that nobody should be forced but that the possibility should be increased for people's right to stay in the working life if they wish to do so and also to increase people's right to re-educate themselves, Nilsson says to Svenska Dagbladet.
Annie Lööf, party leader of the Centre Party (liberal green) supports Reinfeldt's analysis but at the same time she is skeptical to a new rule for a certain reitrement age:
"It is not easy for a person that has worked on the same place for 30 years to suddenly change carrier path and find itself at the bottom of the waiting list. Therefore we must encourage more flexibility on the labour market. We must challenge our way of thinking. But to lock the discussion to a certain age is not necessary. It is most important to create the conditions for people to work longer", Lööf says to Svenska Dagbladet.
The same skepticism to a general raise of the retirement age is seen from the Christian Democrats. Anders Sällström, the economic spokesperson for the Christian Democrats thinks that people should be given the possibility to adapt the working time to the current life-condition.
"What Reinfeldt says about a 75 year limit is rather far away in time if it's to be reality. We believe more in volontary incentives and providing the possibilities to work for a longer time. One important aspect is to look at the possibility to combine this with fewer working hours when the children are small, that we could vary our working hours a little bit more throughout our different phases in our lives", Sällström says to Svenska Dagbladet.
*Note: All quotes are translated from Swedish and may not be exact.