Pension reform: women lag behind in Sweden

Pension reform: women lag behind in Sweden

On October 13, 2022, the Good Women’s Patrol (“Tantpatrullen”) demonstrated one last time before a winter break in Mynttorget Square, near Parliament. Hats and red hats on their heads, they had arrived in their twenties, like every Thursday afternoon, to demand a pension reform. Since 2014, united in an association with several hundred members, they have denounced the impoverishment of the elderly and in particular of women, whose pensions are 30% lower than those of men.

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According to the National Pensions Agency (Pensionsmyndigheten), Swedish women received an average of 16,500 kronor gross (1,463 euros) per month in 2020, while Swedes collected 23,600 kroner (2,088 euros). “The difference is slowly shrinking,” says Ole Settergren, the agency’s chief analyst. But he admits: “Development is very slow and it will take years for the gap to disappear. »

In theory, however, the pension system set up in 1994 is not unequal, as Arturo Arques, economist at Swedbank, points out: “It treats men and women equally and guarantees them the same rights. The problem lies elsewhere, namely that women still earn less than men (around 90% in 2021) and that they generally work shorter hours.

sick children

In a pay-as-you-go system, where pensions are linked to the best 15 years of salary, as was the case before the 1994 reform, “there were already differences between men and women,” says Mr Settergren. They didn’t go away with the introduction of the universal points system, where every crown brought in unlocks the same rights.

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After all, women contribute less than men. And with good reason: they look after their sick children more often (according to the family benefits office, they receive 61% of the childcare allowance, which corresponds to around 80% of the salary). They receive 70% of the allowances provided for under the 480-day parental leave, which is nonetheless put in place to allow parents to stay home that long. Finally, 27.5% of women work part-time compared to 11% of men.

Paradoxically, Sweden, world champions in gender equality, has created a system that turns out to be unequal

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