Helsinki (24.10.1997 - Juhani Artto) The retirement age in the private sector fell throughout the 1980s even though there were no major reforms in that direction. This was due to a growing number of employees choosing or being forced into early retirement. The background to this lay not only in increasing health problems but also in employer policies of smooth reductions in the size of the workforce.

Trade union organisations often agreed to these early retirement schemes when the alternative was to make long serving workers redundant.

Now the trend has has been reversed. At the end of last year the average age of retirement was about 59 years. The figure is based on the retirement age of all present pensioners. At the end of the 1980s the figure reached its all-time lowest level 58,5 years.

Experts estimate that the figure will rise to 59,5 by the year 2000.

One of four is a pensioner

In all, 78 billion Finnish marks was paid out in pension benefits in 1996. 

Pension benefits accounted for 41 per cent of the total social security expenditure and 13.6 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP). 

Pension benefits were paid out to 1,233,653 people, of whom 513,840 were men and 718,813 were women.

The distribution by type of pension scheme was as follows:
 * old-age pensions - 822,515
 * unemployment pensions - 41,411
 * disability pensions - 301,788
 * supplemental pensions - 51,247
 * survivor's pensions for widows and widowers - 238,382
 * survivor's pensions for children - 29,245

Pensioners by age group:















Source: Statistical Yearbook of Finland 1997