Contributions to Swedish occupational pension insurance rose 7.2% as a whole in the first quarter, year-on-year, according to industry association Insurance Sweden (Svensk Forsäkring), which described the pandemic’s effect on the figures as minor – though it said just how contributions would change in the future remained to be seen.

New data from the association showed that contributions to insurance-based occupational pension providers that are exposed to competition – a category which constitutes the bulk of the second-pillar pensions market in Sweden – rose to SEK67.5bn (€6.6bn) in January to March this year, SEK4.5bn or 7.2% more than in Q1 2020.

For the 12 months to the end of March 2021, these pension contributions amounted to SEK160bn, up SEK6.5bn or 4.2% from the level seen in the previous 12-month period, the association reported.

The pandemic had a minor impact on contribution levels for this pensions market, the lobby group said, adding that short-term layoffs had probably played a role.

This market is dominated by Folksam, Skandia and Alecta.

Martin Solberger, quantitative analyst at Insurance Sweden, said: “The pandemic has also hit hardest in industries where the workforce is younger and adherence to collective agreements [which include pension schemes] is low.”

“How the development will be in the future remains to be seen,” he added.

Contributions to private pension insurance, meanwhile, continued to decrease, having fallen sharply since 2016 when they ceased to be tax deductible, Insurance Sweden said.

These contributions fell to SEK400m in the first quarter of this year, down just over SEK30m or 7% from the first quarter of 2020.

Reporting on investment performance for life insurance and occupational pension companies’ assets, Insurance Sweden said the first quarter return overall was 4.5%.

Jonas Söderberg, economist at Insurance Sweden, said: “It was the fourth quarter in a row with historically high returns and is mainly a result of the strong development in stock markets in Sweden and globally.”

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