Work to 75? Swedish PM pension remarks spark furor
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden's Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said people should work till they are 75 rather than expect to retire at 65, sparking a furor in a country that prides itself on its cradle-to-grave welfare system.
Reinfeldt heads a center-right coalition that has so far cautiously cut taxes and some welfare spending without alienating middle class voters proud of their social security.
He made his remarks ahead of a conference this week on jobs for the elderly and women, which will be attended by some European leaders.
"The question is whether an employer will have a different attitude to someone who is 55 if the 55-year-old says, 'now I am thinking of working for another 20 years'," Reinfeldt was quoted by daily Dagens Nyheter as saying.
"The view of the Left is that when work becomes too difficult you take early retirement or some other kind of benefit. I would rather say that when the job becomes too difficult you should do some other kind of work," he added.
Measures to lessen the fiscal burden of pensions have sparked protests across Europe as it tries to deal with cutting its massive debt burdens.
Speaking later to reporters, Reinfeldt said he was trying to get a discussion going before the conference, known as the Northern Future Forum.
Reinfeldt said Sweden had to face the fact that people were living longer and that to maintain current levels of welfare and pension payment they would also have to work longer.
His remarks got blanket coverage in the local media. Continued...