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Has the participation of older employees in the workforce increased? Study of the total Swedish population regarding exit from working life

Review article
Authors Kerstin Nilsson
Per-Olof Östergren
Roland Kadefors
Maria Albin
Published in Scandinavian Journal of Public Health
Volume 44
Issue 5
Pages 506-516
ISSN 1403-4948
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Pages 506-516
Language en
Keywords Workforce participation, older worker, retirement, sickness benefit, disability pension, register study
Subject categories Public health science, Occupational medicine, Demography, Older people and ageing


Aims: This study investigated: (i) the workforce participation in Sweden among older employees before and after changes in eligibility for sickness absence and unemployment compensation by a social insurance reform; and (ii) absence and early exit mechanisms from the workforce for different professions by looking at sickness benefits, disability pension and unemployment, early statutory pension, employment pension and unregistered economic supply. Methods: A register-based follow-up study of the total Swedish workforce population of 55–64-year-olds, measured in 2004 and 2011. Results: The total proportion of individuals aged 55–64 in the workforce increased between 2004 and 2011, but the increase was mostly in professions with lower educational requirements, a lower salary and dominated by women. Both in 2004 and in 2011, men in professions with higher educational requirements more often exit working life with an early statutory pension and employment pension. In contrast, professions with lower educational requirements more often absence working life with sickness benefits, disability pension and unemployment compensation than other professions in both 2004 and 2011. Conclusions: The change in regulations seems to have contributed to an overall shrinking proportion of individuals within the sickness benefit and disability pension schemes. At the same time the proportion of individuals taking an early pension has increased. The results indicated a tendency of passing on the costs of labour-market exit within different economic compensation arrangements, as well as to the individuals themselves; for example, less sickness benefit, disability pension, but more statutory pension and employment pension earlier.

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