Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Difficult for immigrants to make ends meet when they retire

To a large extent Sweden's pension system depends on retirees having lived and worked here for a long time, which explains why in Stockholm County 96 percent of the seniors who need to supplement their pension were born in another country.

Swedish Radio's local channel in Stockholm spoke with a 64-year-old who they called "Eva." While she is old enough to retire and collect pension, Eva is training to be an interpreter in order to support herself.

"Of course I feel worried. I have to keep working because I feel worried about the future," she said.

Low pensions for people who immigrated as adults are the result of both lower incomes and fewer years at jobs in Sweden. Those pensioners have simply paid less into their retirement funds.

Sweden does offer a base-level guaranteed pension for those with little or no income, but to qualify for it one must have lived in Sweden for at least 40 years.

An additional safety net called äldreförsörjningsstöd (roughly "senior livelihood support") is provided for those with little or no pension. In Stockholm County nearly everyone who receives it has been born in another country.

Eva told Swedish Radio that immigrants should get special information from the Swedish Pension Agency.

"...[W]hen you turn 62 you might receive some information: How will you plan your retirement? What are your plans? And how are you who've come late to the country going to plan your pension?" she said.

Anders Thoré from the Swedish National Pensioners' Organisation said the reformed pension system should make it worthwhile to work, but he said it doesn't always do that.

"Many immigrants who arrive here late will pay in money to the pension system. But they won't get as much back as they paid in," said Thoré.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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