There are different routes to retirement. Research on the timing of retirement and type of pension benefit provide information on how working lives have extended and how common various pension benefits are (such as the disability pension or the partial old-age pension).  

During the research program period, we will study retirement by pension benefit and population group, with a special focus on the effects of the 2017 pension reform. In addition to actual retirement, we will review the population’s retirement intentions and the connection between the intended and actual retirement age. We will review the connection between retirement and workplace-level factors, as well as employers’ attitudes to ageing workers and to the retirement ages within the pension system.  

The working life of many ends in retirement on a disability pension. Under this research programme, we will examine disability retirement rates, time-related changes in disability pension application and rejection rates, as well as how the changes differ between various population groups and how they affect the number of persons drawing a disability pension. We will also examine how health, work ability and working conditions affect retirement on a disability pension, measures that support work ability and the process of retirement.  

New study

Work ability projections point to a decline in the population’s work ability

The study based on a series of population representative surveys conducted in Finland showed that the self-reported estimates of the work ability of 20–44-year-olds have weakened in the 2000s, the development of the work ability of 45–54-year-olds has been stable and the work ability of those aged 55 or older has improved. Birth-cohort projections suggest a declining work ability in the future. The research article was published in Scandinavian Journal of Public Health.

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Unemployed at the beginning of a sickness absence spell have poor chances of returning to work

Unemployed persons starting a spell of sickness absence are a heterogeneous group with different labour market pathways. For many, the combination of unemployment and work disability means low chances for employment or regained work ability during the following years. Unemployed persons with long history outside employment, older age, low educational level or a mental disorder could benefit from targeted support.

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Majority does not cut down on working while drawing a partial old-age pension

Photo: Katri Lehtola

Many persons who draw the partial old-age pension continue working as before, with-out changes to their wage level. Only every fifth person on this pension benefit seems to have cut down on working. This is evident in a recent study by the Finnish Centre for Pensions.

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Rehabilitation planning mainly successful – three things require further development

Rehabilitees participating in work trials under the earnings-related pension scheme have fairly positive experiences of rehabilitation planning and cooperation with, for example, occupational health care or the employer. Issues to develop include individual support, timing of rehabilitation and discussions on the possibilities of employment after the work trial. This is evident in a survey by the Finnish Centre for Pensions that is based on interviews of rehabilitees participating in work trials.

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Working in retirement is often irregular and occasional – many fail to find suitable work

Keski-ikäinen mies selaa tablettitietokonetta.

Half of the newly retired old-age pensioners are interested in working in retirement. According to a survey conducted by the Finnish Centre for Pensions, most persons who have worked in retirement have continued working for the same employer and with similar tasks. The work is often irregular and occasional.

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Sickness benefit checkpoints increased rehabilitation participation but did not affect a return to work

In 2012, checkpoints at 30, 60 and 90 days into the sickness allowance were introduced in the Finnish sickness absence system to improve early detection of long-term work disability and hasten return to work after illness. The study by the Finnish Centre for Pensions and Kela showed that there was an increase in participation in rehabilitation after the reform, but this did not affect return to work. Both rehabilitation under the earnings-related pension acts and that arranged by Kela increased.

Increasing share of rehabilitation participants after reform for those exceeding 30, 60 and 90 days on a sickness allowance (%). The share has increased in all rehabilitation offered by Kela, Kela's vocational rehabilitation and rehabilitation under the earnings-related pension scheme.

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Rehabiliation participation fairly low among those on a long-term sickenss allowance

Those on a long-term sickness allowance participate only sporadically in rehabilitation paid for by Kela or the earnings-related pension providers. For example, by the 60th day of the sickenss allowance, only 5 per cent of those starting their sickness allowance period had participated in rehabilition. A year later, the share was 17 per cent. A return to work was less likely and transfer to a disability pension more likely the longer the period of the sickness allowance continued. The results stem from a joint project of Kela and the Finnish Centre for Pensions.

Participation in rehabilitation arranged by Kela or earnings-related pension provider of persons after receiving a sickness allowance for 60, 90, 150 and 230 days (%). When sickness allowance days increase from 60 to 230, the participation rate has risen from just under five (4.83) to about fifteen (15.1). A year later, the participation rate has increased from about seventeen (17.08) to thirty (30.77).

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Self-rated work ability strongly predicts disability retirement

The risk of disability retirement over the next three years was three times as high among those who perceived themselves to be partially disabled and six times as high among those who perceived themselves to be fully disabled compared to those who perceived that they had a full work ability. The study combined data from the Health 2000 and FinHealth 2017 surveys and register data of the Finnish Centre for Pensions. The research article was published in European Journal of Public Health.

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Why has the number of disability pensioners decreased? 

The number of disability pension recipients has dropped by more than 25 per cent between 2010 and 2020. For the main part, this is because many of the babyboomers have transitioned from a disability pension to an old-age pension. At the same time, the number of starting disability pensions has declined. This is observed in a research article by the Finnish Centre for Pensions. 

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Positive perceptions of work and working conditions may encourage late retirement

Work that is found meaningful and perceived to be less hectic and not involving too many changes is linked to late retirement. This is evident from a survey conducted by the Finnish Centre for Pensions that examined the perceptions of persons who retired on an old-age pension between 2019 and 2021.

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Rising retirement age reflected in rising employment rate – unemployment and disability have also increased

The gradual increase of the retirement age agreed on in the 2017 pension reform has considerably raised the employment rate of those approaching their retirement age. At the same time, unemployment and disability retirement have also clearly increased.

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Occupational class inequalities in physical functioning widened after old-age retirement and narrowed after disability retirement

Occupational class inequalities in physical functioning (PF) increased after old-age retirement and decreased after disability retirement. In a study by the University of Helsinki and the Finnish Centre for Pensions, we have reviewed for the first time how PF has developed after old-age and disability retirement.

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Higher risk of disability pension retirement among Finnish public sector than private sector employees

Retirement on a disability pension is more common in the public than the private sector. The differences are particularly high when it comes to retirement on a partial disability pension and varied by occupational group. The study was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health.

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Finns’ retirement intentions keep pace with rising retirement ages

The intended retirement age has increased in Finland at the same pace as the retirement age after the 2017 pension reform. In many other countries, retirement intentions have remained virtually unchanged despite pension reforms.

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2017 pension reform successful – retirement clearly deferred

A recent study by the Finnish Centre for Pensions shows that retirement has been deferred clearly, particularly in the private sector. Working after age 63 has also increased significantly, again particularly in the private sector. The gradual increase of the retirement age was agreed on in connection with the 2017 pension reform. 

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