Work, Ageing and Welfare: Retirement Behaviour in Sweden before the Modern Pension System

Project: Research

Project Details


Reforms of pension systems are high on the agenda, but also controversial since they affect an essential part of the modern life cycle. In this project, we put the current debate in perspective by studying retirement behaviour in Sweden, 1870-1950. Previous research has shown that labour force participation among older people decreased in this period, even though pension benefits were insufficient to sustain a living. We therefor ask: What factors and mechanisms shaped the evolution of retirement behaviour over time? Could people save and plan for their own retirement, or were they forced into retirement due to poor health or inability to keep up with the demands of work. We will combine the use of longitudinal and cross-sectional data: Censuses gives the opportunity to map out and visualize the share of retired people at various points in time, while a detailed longitudinal database enables us to analyse full life-courses including retirement. With this rich time variant information at the individual and household level, we estimate the importance of push factors (access to incomes) and pull factors (unemployment or poor health) for both men and women. Qualitative archival data and published material will provide important contextual and background knowledge on public and occupational pensions. The historical nature of this project has the potential of uncovering various mechanisms that in today’s world are embedded in existing systems of welfare and employment protection.
Short titleWork, Ageing and Welfare
Effective start/end date2023/01/012026/12/31

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth

UKÄ subject classification

  • Economic History
  • Work Sciences
  • History
  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Free keywords

  • retirement
  • ageing
  • gainful employment
  • population registers
  • pensions
  • censuses
  • Sweden
  • nineteenth century
  • twentieth century