As with most countries in the world, Sweden’s population is rapidly ageing. Out of its 10.1 million residents, a significant 20% are aged 65 and above — that’s one in five persons! Furthermore, this number is not expected to decrease anytime soon; by 2040, it is projected to rise to 23%. Sweden is entering a future where one in four persons in the country will be considered an elderly person.
The ageing population in Sweden can be attributed to its high life expectancy and falling birth rates. Today, the life expectancies of Swedish males and females stand at 80 years and 84 years respectively. As the country continues to invest heavily in elderly care, these numbers are expected to increase in the years to come. This phenomenon is even further emphasised by its fertility rate gradually declines to 1.78 children per woman. While it is not among the lowest in the world, it is still below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman.
To cope with this demographic change, elderly care continues to be a key priority for the Swedish government and institutions.
Elderly care in Sweden
To understand elderly care in Sweden, we can look at the following key areas:
1. Largely funded by taxes
In Sweden, elderly care is largely funded by municipal taxes and government grants. In 2014, the total cost of elderly care in Sweden was SEK 109.2 billion (USD 12.7 billion, EUR 11.7 billion), and only 4 per cent of the cost was financed by patient charges. Healthcare costs paid by the elderly themselves are also subsidised by the government.
2. Swedish pension system
The pension system ensures that every person of elderly age in Sweden is guaranteed some form of payment as they come to the end of their working years. From the ages of 61 and 67, citizens can start to withdraw their pension.
This pension can come from several sources: the Swedish Pensions Agency (national retirement pension or national insurance), the employer (occupational pension) and the individual (private pension). For a person of elderly age with low or no income, their national retirement pension is also supplemented by a guarantee pension.