Ageing in Sweden

Pension expert's tips for newcomers planning to retire in Sweden

3:18 min
  • As we've reported this week, foreign-born often get a much smaller monthly pension than native-born Swedes.

  • To find out how newcomers can try to make up for the shortfall, Radio Sweden spoke to Håkan Svärdman, who has been analyzing the Swedish pension system for more than a decade. 

  • He gives tips about what pitfalls to avoid, what to do if you don't have an occupational pension, and where to go for more advice.

Håkan Svärdman's tips for newcomers:

  • Get on the job market as soon as possible and find an employer who has a collective agreement with a union, so that you automatically get an occupational pension. If not, ask if you can get an occupational pension. Otherwise, you need to save money yourself, and that's very important, or you'll be way behind if you came to Sweden in your 30s.

  • How much you need to save depends on your income and how early you came to Sweden. If you come here 20 years before you retire, for example, you should save 600-1000 SEK/month if you haven't had an occupational pension or haven't had pension rights from you're home country. If you don't have any occupational pension at all or have your own company, you can save with a tax deduction.

  • Otherwise, you can choose to save in an investment savings account (called ISK in Swedish) or bank savings or stocks or you can even save through real estate.

  • If you earn at least 46,000 SEK per month, you are allowed to convert some of your salary into your occupational pension.

  • Continuing to work after you turn 65 years old can help you build up your pension and also give you a higher income because of lower taxes.

  • If you start your own company, make sure you pay income tax in order to build up your pension.

  • If you have kids, he advises sharing parental leave time and time off to stay home with a sick child. He also cautions against working part-time for long periods when the kids are small, and calls this a classic trap for women.

  • For more tips, start at and the Pensions Agency. If you're part of a labor union, ask them if they can help you with the occupational pension agreement, then talk to insurance agencies and banks. (Beware that banks and insurance agencies have commercial interests, so he notes that it's important to seek advice from different directions.)