Photo: Hasse Holmberg/Scanpix.

‘Spoiled’ baby boomers refuse to grow old

Sweden's baby boomers
5:16 min

A new study reveals an alarming gap between the expectations of the baby boom generation and the changing nature of elderly care.

“Sweden’s baby boomers were born in the 40s and 50s and they grew up in a time when everything was possible,” says researcher Thomas Fürth who led the study at the think tank Kairos Future.

“They were spoiled, they still have high expectations and don’t want to grow old. But they're aware that things have changed and are starting to look at how they are going to manage.”

The study is based on surveys and interviews with more than 5,000 experts and associations working with the elderly, as well as interviews with almost 2,000 people approaching retirement.

A majority (59 percent) of respondents believe they will have to contribute financially to their care in the future when they are “really old”, which they define as being unable to look after themselves. Yet only 1 in 5 expect to be able to pay for care.

The study also found that most people approaching old age do not want to grow old (68 percent), because of the prospect of becoming dependent on others.

“It’s very hard to face that you’ll be old and fragile and dependent on other people’s goodwill,” said Cathrine Swenzén from the Swedish Pensioners Association (SPF).

“’But there are some good developments such as ‘safe living accommodation’ (trygghetsboenden). You get to choose how you want to live – whether you want to eat alone in your apartment - or with others,” said Swenzén.

The Kairos Future report is upbeat about the prospects of caring for Sweden’s ageing population, predicting that more use of technology and greater family involvement will help bridge the gap left by less state support in the future.

Reporter: Tom Sullivan (

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