Finland's effective retirement age up faster than expected
FINLAND - Effective retirement age in Finland has increased more rapidly than expected when the pension reform of 2005 was being planned, lending support to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health's goal to increase expected effective retirement age by three years before 2025.
A major revamp of the country's pension system in 2005 increased the qualifying age for a pension from 60 to 62 and made it possible for workers to start receiving a pension between 63 and 68.
The country's ministry of social affairs and health set two working groups to identify means to increase the expected effective retirement age.
The government's initial goal was to increase retirement age to 65 already in 2011.
However, so far, there has been no progress on the issue because of disagreements between trade unions and employers.
Trade unions are emphasising the need to develop working conditions and reducing the number of people taking disability pensions - one of the contributing factors for the relatively low effective retirement age - instead of increasing the actual retirement age.
According to TELA's research, most Finns now find 63 years to be an appropriate effective retirement age, up from 62 years three years ago.
Esa Swanljung, managing director of TELA, said: "The perceived appropriate effective retirement age has increased by three years in total since 1998. This development is well in line with the goals to increase years in working life."
Last year, average effective retirement age in Finland reached 59.8 years, while effective old age retirement age stood at 63.4 years on the average.
The large number of people taking disability pensions remains one of the main problems for the sustainability of the Finnish pensions system. In 2009, some 23,900 Finns retired on disability pension.
TELA's research also showed that despite the calls of politicians - for example, finance minister Jyrki Katainen - to increase the lower limit of old age pension, 71% of Finns still resist the idea of an old age pension at 65.
Katainen argued last year that the earlier pension reforms introduced in 2005 had been insufficient.
On the other hand, nearly half (47%) of employees would stay in working life after turning 63. This group of respondents, according to TELA, has grown by 3 percentage points since last year.
According to Swanljung, with coordinated effort from all players in the sector, the number can be brought down in the future.
"Finns are very committed to work," he said. "With the additional effort of all parties - work pension insurers included - disability pensions can be halved in the long term. This is a crucial [dimension] in the lengthening of years in working life and raising the actual retirement age."
Because of the financial crisis and increasing unemployment, however, there is less trust in the occupational pensions system among the Finnish public.
Nearly half (48%) of the respondents do not believe the country's pension assets will be adequate, up from 41%.