SWEDEN - According to a survey by Alecta, the pension and insurance provider, more than half of Sweden's entire working population (61%) would consider declining a salary increase in favour of higher occupational pensions.

The number has increased from 44% in 2009.

Among blue-collar workers, those who would consider lower salaries for higher pensions increased from 39% to 59%.

Among white-collar employees, the number increased from 48% to 63%. 

Among the latter group, 48% also saw pensions as the most important or second-most important benefit, whereas among the blue-collar workers, only 34% gave pensions the same priority.

Instead, they thought the amount of holiday and healthcare insurance were more important.

Eva Adolphson, pensions economist at Alecta, said the focus on pensions had lead to an increase in awareness and the fact that pensions fell last year also increased attention on pension issues.

Meanwhile, the pension fund for the Swedish Church returned 3.2% for the first half, compared with 4.3% for the first six months last year.

The solvency ratio of the SEK9.3bn (€863m) fund increased by 13% to 159% in the first half compared with the same period last year.

Its asset management costs fell from 0.18% to 0.13% over the period.