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The Working Group on Pensions takes a holistic approach on gender-unequal pensions. Within the framework of the ongoing review of pensions, a project – ‘Gender-equal pensions’ – was carried out, aimed at tackling the challenge presented by the large differences in women’s and men’s pensions.
The differences in pensions between women and men are relatively large, larger than the pay differences between the sexes. The national pension system is in itself gender neutral, and the differences therefore have their roots in factors outside the pension system. These differences existed when the pension reform was carried out 20 years ago and will exist for a long time – even if both working life and gender-unequal social structures were changed tomorrow.
The project has investigated nine different sub-areas and the impact they have on women's and men's pensions. Based on this kind of analysis, measures will then be considered on how to achieve more gender-equal pensions.
The nine sub-areas are:
- The income gap for pensioners – income disparities between women and men
- The importance of basic protection for gender-equal pensions
- Occupational pensions' contribution to the pension gap
- The importance of the 'widow's pension' for gender-equal pensions
- The impact of part-time work on pensions
- Why do women leave working life earlier than men?
- Shared pension rights between spouses
- Transfer of premium pension rights between spouses
- Pension rights for childcare years and studies and how they contribute to gender-equal pensions.
The analyses were presented at a seminar and in a memorandum on 21 June 2016.
Action plan for gender-equal pensions
Pensions reflect people's lifetime earnings. Even if, from an international perspective, Sweden is a relatively gender-equal country, women still have lower salaries, they work part-time to a greater extent, have a higher rate of sickness absence and take more responsibility for the family. This means that a woman's lifetime earnings are lower, which can also be seen in their pension statement. In light of the differences that exist between women's and men's pensions, the Working Group on Pensions (the Social Democratic Party, the Green Party, the Moderate Party, the Centre Party, the Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats) decided in May 2015 that a special review of pensions should be carried out from a gender-equality perspective.
In a first step, an analysis of the pension gap has been done from nine different perspectives. The analysis was presented in the report 'Gender-equal pensions?' (Ds 2016:19) in June 2016. The communication was subsequently circulated for comment to a number of public authorities, and a relatively large number of comments have been received. Based on the analysis carried out and the comments received, the Working Group on Pensions has adopted an action plan for further work: Action plan for gender-equal pensions.
Discussions with the social partners on a longer working life
Minister for Social Security Annika Strandhäll appointed Göran Hägglund and Göran Johnsson as process coordinators for a dialogue with the social partners that the Working Group on Pensions has decided should be the starting point for work on measures for a longer working life. The report 'Statement of intent on a longer working life' was presented in September 2016.
Working Group on Pensions: how it works
The Working Group on Pensions consists of representatives of the parties that support the pension agreement (the parties in government and the Moderate Party, the Liberal Party, the Centre Party and the Christian Democrats), chaired by Minister for Social Security Annika Strandhäll. The other members are: Tomas Eneroth (Social Democratic Party), Fredrik Lundh Sammeli (Social Democratic Party), Lars-Arne Staxäng (Moderate Party), Solveig Zander (Centre Party), Mats Persson (Liberal Party), Lars Gustafsson (Christian Democrats) and Rickard Persson (Green Party).
The Working Group on Pensions is tasked with safeguarding the pension agreement and preserving the pension reform and its fundamental principles. The Working Group on Pensions is to consult on issues concerning the pension reform and, if necessary, take initiatives to adjust the pension system. The head of the Working Group is the government minister with the main responsibility for the national pension system.
The Swedish Pensions Agency administers the national pension
The Swedish Pensions Agency administers the national pension and related pension benefits, and provides information about them. The Swedish Social Insurance Inspectorate ensures that the Swedish Pensions Agency conducts its administration with due process and efficiency.
The national pension is called the 'statutory pension', which covers everyone who has worked and lived in Sweden. The amount a person receives as their pension depends on how much they have earned, how long they have worked and how earnings in Sweden have grown.
The national pension consists of:
- Income pension
- Premium pension
- Guarantee pension.
In addition to this, most people receive an occupational pension from their employer. People may also have private pension savings with banks or insurance companies.
Income pension, premium pension and guarantee pension
The income pension is the main part of the national pension system and is based on total earnings throughout a person's life. Income includes salaries, sickness benefit, unemployment benefits, etc.
The premium pension is also based on lifetime earnings. It is placed in funds and everyone may choose the funds into which this money will be placed.
The guarantee pension is there for those who have had low or no income from work in their life. It is linked to the price base amount calculated annually by Statistics Sweden. The size of the guarantee pension depends on how long a person has lived in Sweden. To receive the full guarantee pension, a person must have lived in Sweden for 40 years.