Sweden’s National Government Employee Pensions Board (SPV) said its new analysis showed that gender equality in terms of occupational defined benefit (DB) pension payments is still far off, and though the gap has narrowed over the years, the trend is not entirely going in the right direction.

In its study – focussing on how salaries and payments from the DB side of occupational pensions differ between women and men – SPV said it found that recently-retired women received 34% less in monthly pensions than men, even though differences in pay during their working lives were only a third as wide.

SPV said in a summary of the findings that among people receiving their first pension payments in 2021, the gender gap was large. “The women received an average of SEK4,855 (€457) per month compared with the men who received SEK7,404 per month,” it said.

However, the pensions administrator for government employees said the gender difference in fixed salary was not as large as the gap in pension payments, with women earning 12% less than men on average.

SPV said the gender gap for DB occupational pension payments was larger than the gender salary gap mainly because men more commonly had incomes above 7.5 income base amounts – the increment used to calculate Swedish pension entitlement which is SEK71,000 in 2022.

“At this limit, the contribution to the occupational pension increases,” it said.

The board said that in addition to salary, another factor affecting the so-called pension base – the income amount on which pension benefits are calculated – was salary supplements such as holiday supplements.

A person could have a salary below 7.5 income base amounts, but including salary supplements could nevertheless end up on a pensionable salary above 7.5 income base amounts.

“The survey shows that this outcome is more common among men than women,” it said.

The difference was greatest among younger employees, the board said, adding that could be partly due to the fact that individuals on parental leave sometimes chose not to take a holiday and therefore did not get a holiday supplement.

The agency said between 2010 and 2021, the difference in the pension base between men and women had decreased to 10.6% from 15.3%, for people born before 1973. If that trend had continued, it said, women would have been expected to catch up with men in around 25 years.

But for those born between 1973 and 1987, the difference had been widening, SPV said. For that cohort the gap had increased to 5.8% in 2021 from 3.6% in 2010.

If that increase continued, the gender difference in pension based would grow to around 10% in 15 years, it predicted – a gap as large as it had been in 2021 for people born before 1973.

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