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Big increase in young people on early retirement

Almost double as many young between the ages of 20 and 24 live today on activity compensation compared to a year ago. Activity compensation replaced the young persons' version of early retirement in 2003. This is when Social Services deems that a person's ability to work is permanently impaired.

A report to the Social Insurance Review, puts unemployment and poor education behind the increase and not an upswing in ill-health.

The number of young who receive activity compensation has increased by 80 percent since the changes were introduced. In 2003, 7,658 people between 20 to 24 years-of-age received the payment. In March this year, that figure had climbed to 13,926 people.

Low education and joblessness are seen as a main factor leading to activity compensation, but the official reasons for 73 percent of the young taking activity compensation are ADHD (attention deficit disorder,) autism and Asperger's syndrome, writes Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

"This shows that there is a forgotten part of labour policy. This group has not been focused upon when one has done reforms in social insurance. One has allowed this development to go on for a long time, it is a dramatic development," says the Swedish Trade Union Confederation's economist Irene Wennemo, who is the head secretary of the investigation.

"These are young people who risk being left completely out of the job market," says Irene Wennemo.

Social insurance minister, Ulf Kristersson, of the ruling conservative Moderate party, admits that just about half the people receiving the compensation don't belong to the group it was intended for. He says the government could be doing more to help them but that it will probably take years before the problem is fully investigated.

He says the solutions might involve student financial aid and finding better ways for people with psychological problems to be in the workforce.

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