Research on Retirement

An extension of working lives requires a rise in the average effective retirement age. Therefore it is important that we study the routes to retirement. At the Finnish Centre for Pensions, we monitor and study the frequency and the effects on retirement of the new pension types: the years-of-service pension and the partial old-age pension. We also need data on the financial incentives of the pension system and how they affect the different population groups. In addition to the effective retirement, we also review the retirement intentions of the population and how employers relate to, for example, the employment of the elderly.

The working life of many ends when they retire on a disability pension. The number of starting disability pensions has decreased in recent years, while the number of partial disability pensions and cash rehabilitation benefits has increased. We also study the differences between population groups regarding the disability pension risk in various disease categories and the connection between retirement and health, work ability as well as working conditions.

In recent years, working while drawing a pension has become increasingly common. We produce data on the frequency and development of working while receiving a pension. In addition, we examine the pension reforms of other countries and how these reforms have affected the retirement age.

Current research projects

Employers’ views on the experience rating model of disability pensions

Aim: The disability pension contribution of large companies is determined based on the companies’ disability risk and the contribution category defined by it. This own risk is used to encourage companies to prevent the disability of their employees. None of the studies of the current system indicate clearly, however, that the experience rating model would significantly reduce the sickness benefit or disability pension expenditure. However, the views of the employers have not been investigated. The aim of our project is to find out how familiar employers are with the experience rating model and how it is seen to affect companies’ prevention of disability and recruitment decisions.

Realisation: We will conduct a questionnaire survey with employers about the experience rating model of disability pensions and its incentive effects. The project will be carried out by our Research and Planning Departments.

Schedule: 2016–2017

Researchers: Jyri Liukko, Anu Polvinen ja  Meeri Kesälä

Employment of disability pension retirees

Aim: It is possible to work while drawing a disability pension. Nearly 80 per cent of the partial disability pension recipients and approximately 10 per cent of the full disability pension recipients work alongside retirement. In this study we will examine how disability pension retirees with an income from work differ from the rest of the disability pension recipients in terms of, among other things, education, socioeconomic standing, field of business, previous earnings and marital status. We will also review working while drawing a disability pension based on the underlying reasons for the disability pension.
Realisation: Our study will be based on a 10-per-cent random sample of the population living in Finland in 1995-2012 compiled by Statistics Finland as well as the register data of the Finnish Centre for Pensions.

Schedule: 2016-2017

Researcher: Anu Polvinen

Flexible retirement on an old-age pension in Norway and Sweden – lessons for other countries

Aim: The aim of this project is to find out the implications of the flexible retirement age and the possibility to take out a partial early old-age pension on retirement in Norway and Sweden.  The old-age pension system that was reformed in Sweden at the turn of the century and in Norway in 2011 offers individuals an extensive freedom of choice regarding retirement. In Finland, an equivalent system will come into force in 2017. The aim of our study is to find out how the effective retirement has developed in these two countries.

Realisation: An article in English in cooperation with a researcher from the Institute for Social Research in Norway.

Schedule: 2015-2017

Researchers: Mika Vidlund, Jari Kannisto (Finnish Centre for Pensions) and Axel West Pedersen (Institute for Social Research)

Processes leading to disability pension

Aim: Reducing new disability pensions has been identified as one of the main means to increase the number of working years of the working-age population. One of the central tools for this task includes an improved understanding and management of the processes leading to a disability pension. The aim of this project is to produce up-to-date register-based information on factors affecting retirement on a disability pension. We examine the sickness absence, rehabilitation and unemployment history that precedes retirement on a disability pension.

Realisation: Register data of the Finnish Centre for Pensions and Kela.

Schedule: 2013-2016

Researchers: Mikko Laaksonen and Raija Gould (Finnish Centre for Pensions),  Jenni Blomgren, Annamari Tuulio-Henriksson, Lauri Virta, Karoliina Koskenvuo and Hannamari Heinonen (Social Insurance Institution of Finland)


Laaksonen M., Blomgren J., Tuulio-Henriksson A., (2015). Sickness allowance histories among disability retirees due to mental disorders: A retrospective case–control study. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health,  Complete manuscript accepted for publication.

Laaksonen M., Blomgren J., and Gould R., (2014). Sickness allowance, rehabilitation and unemployment history of disability retirees. A register based study. Finnish Centre for Pensions, Reports 2014:5. (Executive Summary)

Register study of time before a disability pension, II

Aim: In order to reduce the number of starting disability pensions, it is important to know which factors contribute to the likelihood of retirement on a disability pension and which routes lead to retirement. The aim of this study is to use extensive, nationally representative data to produce current information on the events and development that lead to retirement on a disability pension. The study is a continuation of a project that ended in 2015 in which we studied what happened before retirement on a disability pension, that is, periods of sickness allowance, rehabilitation and unemployment.

Realisation: The study is based on data that combines the register data of the Finnish Centre for Pensions and Kela.

Schedule: 2016-2020

Researchers: Mikko Laaksonen, Anu Polvinen (Finnish Centre for Pensions); Jenni Blomgren, Annamari Tuulio-Henriksson, Lauri Virta, Karoliina Koskenvuo, Hannamari Heinonen (Kela); Laura Salonen (University of Turku)

Retirement intentions and effective retirement ages of elderly wage-earners

Aim: In this project, we will examine the differences between the private and the public sector intentions to continue working past the earliest eligibility age for old-age pension and the effective retirement age. According to Quality of Worklife Surveys, the retirement intentions of the public sector have clearly been postponed since the flexible retirement age was introduced. The same cannot be said for the private sector, however. To which degree do the intended retirement ages and the effective retirement ages match? To which degree does the individual retirement age steer public sector wage-earners to retire at a later age than the private sector wage-earners? To which degree do the factors affecting the quality of worklife explain this gap in private and public sector retirement intentions?

Realisation: Our research will be based on Statistics Finland’s Quality of Worklife Surveys 2003, 2008 and 2013, as well as on related register data of Statistics Finland, the Finnish Centre for Pensions and Keva.

Schedule: 2015-2017

Researchers: Noora Järnefelt and Satu Nivalainen

Status after rejection of disability pension application

Aim: Nearly one fourth of all new disability pension applications are rejected. Previous studies have focused on the ratio of rejections in various groups of applicants and the growth of these ratios. Very little attention has been paid to the applicants’ status after a rejected application for a disability pension.  We know, however, that a considerable ratio of applicants whose disability pension applications have been rejected have received a disability pension some years after the rejection. In this project, we will study the employment, rehabilitation, unemployment and retirement status following the application rejection of those whose disability pension applications were turned down.

Realisation: We will use the register data of the Finnish Centre for Pensions to monitor those whose disability pension applications were rejected in 2010.

Schedule: 2016-2017

Researchers: Mikko Laaksonen, Raija Gould and Jyri Liukko

Work-to-retirement trajectories

Aim: In our study we will identify, describe and analyse the trajectories through which people have retired on an old-age pension after the 2005 pension reform. Using sequence analysis, we will identify the trajectories that lead from work to retirement by identifying similar transition histories from register data. In this study, we will review how certain trajectories are chosen and the connection between exit routes and pension level.

Realisation: The project will be realised in the form of two or more studies, which will be published as articles in international scientific journals. The studies will be primarily based on the register data of the Finnish Centre for Pensions and Statistics Finland.

Schedule: 2015–2017

Researchers: Arie Riekhoff (University of Tampere) and Noora Järnefelt (Finnish Centre for Pensions)