Working life and its development 

In an earnings-related pension system, continuous employment, career progress and earnings growth across the life course are key factors in determining economic wellbeing in old age. This project aims at investigating working life length, career breaks, job changes and earnings mobility across the life course, how they are linked and how they impact pension income. Moreover, it aims at analysing whether the relation between career stability and earnings mobility has changed across cohorts and whether the changing parameters of the Finnish pension system had an effect on how work and earnings translate into pension accrual. The project uses the ansiokehitys (AK20) data on earnings, pensions and employment spells for representative samples of birth cohorts 1905–1980 and spanning the years 1963–2019.

Schedule: 2020–

Researcher: Aart-Jan Riekhoff

In the face of population ageing, most industrialised countries search for ways to extend working lives as a means of improve the sustainability of their pension systems. A broad range of reforms has been implemented, including the closing of early exit pathways, the raising of official retirement ages and strengthening the financial incentives to work longer. At the same time, there is growing awareness of the need to invest in workers for them to be able to continue working, for example by promoting lifelong learning and healthy behaviour. However, whereas an overall trend towards longer working lives can be observed, there are differences between countries and inequalities between groups within countries. In this project, we aim to analyse the mechanisms of extending working lives from a comparative perspective. In addition, we aim to identify whose working lives are extending and whether there are differences between the genders and socioeconomic groups.

Schedule: 2020–

Researchers: Kati Kuitto, Aart-Jan Riekhoff, Liisa-Maria Palomäki


In this book chapter, we review empirical evidence on how working lives have been lengthening in different European welfare states and what kind of socioeconomic differences can be observed. Based on the evidence, we discuss whether the policy goal of extending working lives can be seen as socially sustainable and what could be done to support later exit from labour markets in different groups. The book chapter is part of the SustAgeable book “Social sustainability in ageing welfare states” (edited by Maria Vaalavuo, Kenneth Nelson and Kati Kuitto, Edward Elgar)

Schedule: 2023–2024

Researchers: Kati Kuitto and Kun Lee (University of Oxford)

Career length is one of the key indicators presented by the Finnish Centre for Pensions in relation to monitoring the development of the pension system and the implementation of pension reforms. The Finnish Centre for Pensions is the only Finnish institution to systematically release statistics and research data on career lengths in Finland. Career length based on the Finnish Centre for Pensions’ earnings and accrual register has been calculated since 2012. It depicts the length of time spent in an employment relationship or insured under the Self-employed Persons’ Pensions Act during the review period.

In this project, we develop alternative career length indicators which make use of register data. The indicators can be used alongside and as complements to traditional data on career length. The indicators include:

  1. length of employment, which depicts the time spent in the same employment relationship or time insured under the Self-employed Persons’ Pensions Act, (when employment relationships for the same employer include short breaks lasting for a few days, the periods of employment are combined into one employment relationship;
  2. length of career, that is, length of employment when combining different employment relationships and periods of self-employment (excluding overlaps);
  3. benefit period, which depicts the length of time on benefits for which pension accrues;
  4. active career, which depicts the length of a career, reduced by periods of benefits that overlap periods of employment and self-employment, such as parental leaves or long sickness leaves; and
  5. time of pension accrual, which includes time on benefits for which pension accrues both during and outside the career.

These indicators can be used to measure, among other things,

  • how many employment relationships or periods of self-employment careers consist of,
  • how much of careers are active working times, and
  • how much of the pensionable time is made up of benefits and of gainful employment.

The publications of this project describe how the indicators are formed and review how they are distributed between various population groups by gender, educational level, socioeconomic status and way in which the career ends (unemployment, disability pension or old-age pension following gainful employment). Career indicators are also compared between time periods and cohorts.

Schedule: 2022−2025

Authors: Noora Järnefelt, Mikko Laaksonen, Pauli Pekkala, Tarja Karjalainen

In recent years, light entrepreneurship (in Finnish: kevytyrittäjyys) i.e., self-employment through billing service companies, has become more common in Finland. In this study, we examine light entrepreneurs in years 2017–2022. We use detailed register data covering years 2012–2022 from Statistics Finland and the Finnish Centre for Pensions to study the careers of light entrepreneurs. We answer four research questions: 

  • What characterizes light entrepreneurs in terms of personal characteristics and employment history?  
  • What does light entrepreneurship look like, and how is it combined with other kinds of work? 
  • How do the careers of light entrepreneurs develop over time (before, while and after they are light entrepreneurs)?  
  • How does light entrepreneurship affect accrual of pensions? 

 The results from this research are of value in the development of legislation and policies regarding new employment forms, social security, and pensions, and more broadly for developing services for new types of employment. The results can also be of interest internationally and for academic research, as there is little information about individuals who engage in new forms of employment.

Schedule: 2023–2025

Researchers: Susanna Sten-Gahmberg, Aart-Jan Riekhoff , Susan Kuivalainen 

In recent years, working in retirement has become increasingly more popular. In this project we examine how working in retirement has changed in recent years and how long the periods of working in retirement are. Working in retirement is examined both among those on a disability pension and those on an old-age pension. The data is based on composite data of income distribution and pension register data.

Schedule: 2020–

Researchers: Anu Polvinen  



Retirement on a disability pension and receiving a sickness allowance have become less common in the 2000s, but in the last few years, the number of persons receiving these benefits has grown, particularly due to mental disorders. In this study, we examine trends relating to disability pension claims, retirement on a disability pension and rejected disability pension claims, and related predictive factors, particularly from the point of view of the benefit processes.} We examine the labour market position and the receiving of different social security benefits as predictors of retirement and pension claim rejections. The study is based on combined register data of Kela, the Finnish Centre for Pensions and Statistics Finland that covers the entire population of Finland. The research questions include: How has claiming and retiring on a disability pension developed in the 2000s in different population and diagnosis groups when looking at earnings-related and national pensions as a whole? Have the factors that predict retirement on a disability pension and the process of retirement on a disability pension changed in the 2000s? What is the labour market position and use of social security benefits of disability pension applicants before and after claiming a disability pension when considering also the rejected claims? The study is done in cooperation with Kela.


Researchers: Mikko Laaksonen, Jenni Blomgren (Kela), Riku Perhoniemi (Kela), Anu Polvinen


In terms of extending working lives, it is important to know employers’ position on retirement and on continued working among workers who are approaching retirement age. The earnings-related old-age pension is flexible. The pension recipient can choose when to retire: anytime between their legal retirement age and the age when their pension insurance obligation ends. These age limits will rise gradually due to the 2017 pension reform. In this project we will examine employers’ positions on the rising age limits in general and in light of their own workers. We will also examine employers’ positions on an ageing workforce, personnel policy and their willingness to employ persons who are approaching their retirement age or who have already retired.

A questionnaire survey with public and private sector employers of different sizes will be conducted in 2021 to find out the position of employers on the above-mentioned issues. A similar survey was conducted by the Finnish Centre for Pensions in 2004 and 2011. The most recent survey will be conducted so that the results of the central questions are comparable with those of previous surveys.

Schedule: 2020–2024

Researchers:  Noora Järnefelt, Mikko Laaksonen, Jyri Liukko, Aart-Jan Riekhoff


In this study we will examine factors underlying retirement as well as post-retirement perceptions. The study will be conducted as a questionnaire survey on the significance of factors relating to individual situation, work and the pension system for the timing of retirement. We will outline perceptions of how the financial and social situation changes at retirement and thoughts on working in retirement.

In the autumn of 2022, we will send a questionnaire survey to 5,000 randomly selected persons who have retired from work in the years 2019–2021. We will supplement the data with information on working life and retirement from the registers of the Finnish Centre for Pensions.

We will publish the first results in the autumn of 2023. The data will be processed in accordance with the GDPR. The answers of individual persons cannot be identified from the results. More information on the data protection responsibilities of the Finnish Centre for Pensions

Schedule: 2022–2025

Researchers: Sanna Tenhunen, Noora Järnefelt, Susan Kuivalainen, Jyri Liukko, Satu Nivalainen, Liisa-Maria Palomäki, Anu Polvinen, Juha Rantala, Aart-Jan Riekhoff, Susanna Sten-Gahmberg

The risk of becoming disabled increases sharply after the age of 50. As the statutory retirement age rises, it is important to monitor changes in disability retirement especially among the oldest new pensioners. The study examines the starting age of disability pensions for people aged 50 and over by birth cohort, using data from the registers of the Finnish Centre for Pensions. The study includes all persons born between 1945 and 1971 who are not on disability pension at age 50. The study examines the incidence of disability pensions for these cohorts by one-year age groups after reaching the age of 50.

Schedule: 2024

Authors: Mikko Laaksonen

In this research project we examine the link between the exceptional earnings-related pension index increase and retirement on a partial old-age pension and working. At the beginning of 2023, earnings-related pensions were raised by an exceptionally high earnings-related pension index. As a result of the increased earnings-related pension index, a clearly larger number of persons drew a partial old-age pension or retired on a full old-age pension at the end of 2022 than before. The aim of this project is to explain which factors were linked to drawing a partial old-age pension because of the earnings-related pension index. Later on, we will examine how retirement due to the exceptional earnings-related pension index is linked to, for example, working after drawing the pension.

Schedule: 2023–2025

Authors: Ilari Ilmakunnas, Susanna Sten-Gahmberg

The Finnish Centre for Pensions and the University of Tampere carry out a study that maps out rehabilitees’ views and experiences of the various stages of rehabilitation. Persons who participate in vocational rehabilitation in the form of a work trial in the spring of 2023 are interviewed for the study.

The study focuses on the following questions: What are rehabilitees’ experiences and views of applying for rehabilitation and drawing up a rehabilitation plan? What are the rehabilitees’ experiences of work trial and the time after the work trial? According to the rehabilitees, how does rehabilitation improve work ability and the possibilities to continue at or return to work? How does cooperation with the other parties involved work throughout the entire rehabilitation process, that is, during the planning stage, the work trial period and afterwards?

Schedule: 2022–2025

Authors: Jyri Liukko, Jarna Pasanen (Tampere University), Susanna Sten-Gahmberg

The individual early retirement (IER) scheme which had relaxed medical criteria, was abolished as an independent program and fused into ordinary disability pension (DP) scheme in 2004. However, the conditions for DP were relaxed to match those under the abolished IER. At the same time, the lowest eligibility age for relaxed conditions was increased from 58 to 60 years. We analyse benefit applications and trends in receipt following the 2004 reform among cohorts affect-ed before and after the reform. Our intention is to analyse the composition of the groups pre/post reform. We use total register data of the Finnish Centre for Pensions from years 1995–2017.

Schedule: 2020–

Researchers: Ricky Kanabar (University of Bath), Satu Nivalainen, Mikko Laaksonen, Noora Järnefelt

The number of people retiring on a disability pension at a young age has increased throughout the 2000s. This study examines the employment history of young people on a disability pension using data on annual working days, earnings, pension accrual and pension amounts. It also examines the duration and permanence of retirement, as well as the study, sickness benefit and rehabilitation histories of young disability pensioners. The study is based on register data of earnings periods and social benefits available to the Finnish Centre for Pensions. The sample consists of persons born in 1989, 1990 and 1991 who are on a disability pension at the age of 30 or have been on disability pension at a younger age. The reference group is those who have not been on a disability pension before the age of 30.

Schedule: 2024–2025

Authors: Mikko Laaksonen, Susanna Sten-Gahmberg

Pension adequacy 

In this research project we examine how earnings change after drawing a partial old-age pension. Previously there were only rough descriptions of what happens to earnings when starting to draw a partial old-age pension. The aim is to illustrate in much more detail than before both changes in earnings and what earnings trajectories those who draw a partial old-age pension have. The study also provides new information on the intensity of working after drawing a partial old-age pension.

Schedule: 2023–2024

Authors: Ilari Ilmakunnas, Susanna Sten-Gahmberg

The aim of pension policy is to guarantee a reasonable economic wellbeing for all pensioners and to prevent poverty. In this study, we examine how income changes at retirement. We assess the change in income in terms of the individual’s own gross or net income and the household-specific equivalent income. When assessing income changes, we consider, among other things, the retiree’s pre-retirement income and labour market position, pension benefit, family status and gender.

In the first stage of the study, we calculate the changes in income based on the individual’s net income for those who have retired between 2000 and 2017. This way, we can examine what type of income changes have taken place in the initial stages of retirement after the early 2000s. In the second stage of this study, we review the impact of various income concepts on the overall picture of changes in income. When applicable, we also calculated the pension’s replacement rates. The study focuses on individuals who have retired in 2017. In the third stage of the study, we calculate the change in income based on the equivalent income, which allows us to take into consideration the retiree’s family status and the income of the other family members.

Our research data is based on the income distribution data panel of Statistics Finland and related data retrieved from other registers of Statistics Finland and the Finnish Centre for Pensions for the period 1995–2020.

Schedule: 2021–2023

Researchers: Juha Rantala, Marjo Pyy-Martikainen (Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland), Marja Riihelä (VATT Institute for Economic Research)


In this article, we look at how households’ age structure, equivalence scales and housing are reflected in the economic wellbeing of pensioners. The data consists of questionnaire survey data of the Finnish Centre for Pensions, consumption and wealth data of Statistics Finland and Eurostat’s data on income and living conditions (EU-SILC).

Schedule: 2018–2024

Authors: Kati Ahonen, Susan Kuivalainen


The aim of this research project is to shed light on the various factors underlying the subjective views of economic well-being of older Europeans. We are interested in how subjective economic well-being is related to individuals’ income levels, source of income, poverty and life courses. We also compare countries and identify factors at the macrolevel that influence individuals’ and households’ economic well-being. The empirical analysis is based on multi-country survey data from EU-SILC and SHARE, in combination with data extracted from other external sources. Results will be published in international scientific journals on ageing and social policy.

Schedule: 2020–2023

Researchers: Liisa-Maria Palomäki, Kati Kuitto, Susan Kuivalainen, Aart-Jan Riekhoff


Palomäki, L.-M. & Riekhoff, A.-J. & Kuitto, K. (2024) What it means to be poor: Dimensions of economic hardship among older people living in poverty across Europe. Ageing & Society (Ahead of print). | Accepted manuscript version.

Palomäki, L.-M., Kuitto, K., Kuivalainen, S., & Riekhoff, A. J. (2022) Size or Content of the Pie? Source of Income and Perceived Income Adequacy of Older Europeans. Journal of Aging & Social Policy, 1–19.

Kakun koko vai sisältö? – Eläkeikäisten kokemus toimeentulosta riippuu paitsi tulojen määrästä myös tulonlähteestä Kakun koko vai sisältö? – Eläkeikäisten kokemus toimeentulosta riippuu paitsi tulojen määrästä myös tulonlähteestä – Eläketurvakeskus (, 27.9.2022.

Size or content of the pie – amount and source of income is related to income perceptions Size or content of the pie – amount and source of income is related to income perceptions – Finnish Centre for Pensions (, 29.9.2022.

We continue to produce new and up-to-date information on pensioners’ perceptions of their livelihood and economic wellbeing. In the autumn of 2023, we will repeat the questionnaire survey “Pensioners’ income and economic wellbeing” that we carried out in 2017 and 2020. The survey, carried out online and by post, is targeted at the pensioners who responded to the previous surveys. Our aim is to better recognize factors that affect pensioners’ perceptions of their livelihood and follow changes in these perceptions during retirement.

In our analysis, we focus on the reporting on central indicators (for example, economic satisfaction, covering usual and necessary expenses, consumption), but we also present information from new viewpoints. They include incurring debt, wealth, financial relations between the spouses and causes that prevent working in retirement.

Handling personal data is governed by the privacy statements (in Finnish and Swedish): Tietosuojaseloste (pdf)Dataskyddsbeskrivning (pdf).

Schedule: 2020–2024

Authors: Kati Ahonen, Ilari Ilmakunnas, Susan Kuivalainen, Anu Polvinen, Liisa-Maria Palomäki, Anniina Kaittila (University of Turku)



The Pension Barometer examines how well Finns know pensions and how well they think pensions are implemented. The Barometer reveals Finns’ perceptions of how well they will manage financially in retirement and measures their trust in the pension system. 

The Pension Barometer is based on annual interviews carried out with about a thousand people who live in mainland Finland. The survey allows researchers to monitor how people’s opinions, perceptions and trust in the pension system change and develop.  

Researchers: Allan Paldanius, Susan Kuivalainen, Sanna Tenhunen

Schedule: 2017–2026


In this study we outline Finnish citizens’ opinions and views on pensions and the reliability and future outlooks of the pension system. In addition, we examine Finns’ assessments of their retirement income and how they have prepared themselves financially for retirement. We also outline how much they know about pensions and of the impacts of the 2017 pension reform and how these impacts may affect retirement.

The study is based on a questionnaire survey sent to 5,000 randomly selected 25–67-year-old Finnish citizens. The dataset is supplemented with register data. The privacy statement (in Finnish) is applied to the processing of personal data.

Schedule: 2019–2023

Researchers: Sanna Tenhunen, Liisa-Maria Palomäki, Jyri Liukko, Juha Rantala, Susan Kuivalainen


Financial sustainability of the pension system 

We will assess how the statutory pension expenditure and the average benefits have developed, as well as the long-term financing of private-sector earnings-related pensions. We will assess the expenditure and contributions with the long-term projection model of the Finnish Centre for Pensions. The model simulates the operations of the statutory pension system and makes it possible to issue projections to meet the forecasting and planning needs of the pension system.

Schedule: Ongoing. Most recent report published in the autumn of 2019.

Researchers: Kaarlo Reipas, Heikki Tikanmäki, Mikko Sankala


Repeated surveys

Monitoring pension knowledge and trust in the pension system is part of the research programme at the Finnish Centre for Pensions. Surveys measuring pension knowledge and trust are conducted at regular intervals. Below we present information on these surveys.

The pension barometer is an annually conducted survey that explores the views of Finnish citizens on pensions. Each year, around one thousand 18–79-year-old Finns have responded to the survey. In 2017–2022, the barometer has been conducted as part of an interview survey that Kantar TNS Oy conducts by phone.

The pension barometer examines Finns’ perceptions of how well they know pensions and will manage financially in retirement. The survey also includes statements on how the pension system works and whether it achieves its objective of providing an income. It also maps the general trust in the pension system and its future.

In 2019-2021, the barometer has examined Finns’ views on the principles of the pension system, such as its coverage, how contributions and pensions are linked to income and views on alternative ways to strengthen the financing of the pension system. In 2020 and 2021, the survey included questions on the impact of the corona pandemic on the trust in the pension system and the respondents’ income. In 2022, the survey included questions on pension knowledge and the pension record.


A report on the results of the pension barometer is published every year. It also includes comparisons with results from previous years. The reports are published in the Julkari publications archive.


Knowledge of the pension system, views on its operation and how it reaches its goals, as well as the trust in pensions have been examined since the early days of the Finnish pension system.

The survey on trust in pensions in 2011 and 2014, examined the trust in the pension system and pensions, as well as financial preparedness for retirement. The 2019 survey on views on pensions included several questions that were included in previous surveys. This made it possible to examine changes in perceptions. The surveys also include an open response section based on which the trust in pensions has been examined qualitatively.

The 2019 survey on views on pensions examined, for the first time, also pension knowledge with detailed and objectively measurable questions. The survey included questions on the overall trustworthiness of the pension system, its current state and future outlook, as well as on what concerns people have about pensions.

The 2019 survey on views on pensions was conducted in September-December 2019. The survey was sent to 5,000 randomly selected Finnish citizens aged 25–67 years. 1,757 persons responded to the survey.

The next survey on Finns’ knowledge of and trust in pensions is planned to be carried out in 2024.


Research reports and articles have been written based on the 2019 survey on views on pensions and the 2011 and 2014 surveys on trust in pensions.

Studies published based on 2011 and 2014 surveys on trust in pensions

Finnish Centre for Pensions – Central body of and expert on statutory earnings-related pensions