It is characteristic of the Nordic countries that a high number of people are active on the labour market. In many of the Nordic countries the benefit schemes are designed to match a lengthy period on employment with respect of rights to early retirement and old age pension.


In all Nordic countries the rate of employment is high for most age groups and for both sexes. However, there are a considerable difference between the countries. This makes the length of time that people remain active on the labour market as determinant of the rate of elderly and disabled together with the expenditure on social benefits for this group of benefit recipients.

The rate of employment decline with age for both men and women in all countries. The differences in employment rates between countries for specific age groups are mainly related to differences in occupational structures, leading to different consequences on the health of the labour force and variations in unemployment patterns. Especially the age when people can claim old age pension have a remarkable effect on rates of employment.

Employment rates over time

In the Nordic countries employment rates for different age groups and sex have changed over time. The following diagrams picture the employment rates in the Nordic countries with five-year intervals for both women and men, beginning with the latest year of the statistics and going backwards to the year 2000.