Pension to widows and widowers

In the Nordic countries there have for many years been a special pension for widows and widowers. This survivor’s pension has the general purpose of providing a financial support for especially widows in cases where they have lost their spouse. However, the survivor’s pension has become less substantial in recent years, due to the increased participation of women in the labour market and shifts in the distribution of income between spouses. It can be added that as part of this financial support some countries also grant funeral assistance.

Average monthly amount of survivor’s pension

The two graphs below present the data on average monthly amount of survivor’s pension in the Nordic countries where this policy is still in effect.

In Denmark a special survivor’s pension do not exist anymore, and therefore there is not data on this topic.

The data presented is correlated with the PPP/Euro indicator to enhance the comparison of the average monthly benefits. Using the purchasing power parity (PPP/Euro) it is possible to compare the value of the amount more directly than using the national currency.

Comparing the two graphs it is noticeable that the average monthly benefit is higher for widows than for widowers in all the Nordic countries. 

For Iceland the average amount is almost the same for both widows and widowers. 

For Sweden it is noticeable that what began as distinct difference in monthly amount have over the years reduced the average amount for widows to be almost identical with the amount for widowers.

For both countries of Norway and Finland the average amount has remained higher for widows than for widowers.

Denmark

Pensions to widows and widowers have been abolished. A survivor’s allowance is payable to non-pensioners upon the death of their spouse or partner. The survivor’s allowance is income- and capital-adjusted and takes the form of a non-recurrent payment.

Faroe Islands

A widow’s/widower’s pension is payable via the disability pension system. To receive this benefit, the recipient must have been married upon the death of their spouse and have children under the age of 18. 

Upon losing a spouse, pensioners may be paid a survivor’s pension on a short-term basis, corresponding to three months’ pension.

Finland

A family pension may be granted if marriage took place before the surviving spouse turned 65 and s/he had children by the deceased. For couples with no children, marriage must have taken place before the surviving spouse turned 50 and must have lasted more than five years. Similar rules apply to those in registered partnerships. Widows and widowers are entitled to the survivor’s pension by way of basic pension/guaranteed minimum pension and employment pension/earnings-related pension. 

Since 2022, those born in 1975 or later who become widows/widowers in 2022 or later, will be paid a surviving spouse’s pension for a maximum of 10 years or until the youngest child turns 18. Common-law spouses are also entitled to a surviving spouse’s pension if they have shared a household with the deceased for at least 5 years and they have a minor child together.

Iceland

The survivor’s pension has been abolished as a basic pension, but it is still paid via the employment pension system.

Norway

A pension is granted to surviving spouses and, in some cases, to cohabitants. A pension may also be granted to survivors if they were either divorced or had children together. The survivor’s ability to support him-/herself determines their entitlement to the survivor's pension. Widows and widowers are entitled to the survivor’s pension by way of basic pension/guaranteed minimum pension and employment pension/earnings-related pension.

The Social Security Scheme’s old-age and disability pension systems define the rules governing the employment pension for survivors. Survivors are granted the highest amount from their own employment pension, or 55 per cent of the sum of their own and the deceased’s employment pensions.

Sweden

The current widow’s/widower's pension will naturally lapse for most survivors. Widows and widowers are entitled to the adjustment pension by way of a basic pension/guaranteed minimum pension and an employment pension/earnings-related pension. The adjustment pension is paid for one year. If the widow/widower has children, the adjustment pension can be extended. The adjustment pension ends when the surviving spouse qualifies for the basic/guaranteed minimum pension under the old-age pension scheme. 

Under the old system, a condition for being awarded the widow’s pension was that marriage had taken place no later than 1989. Widows are entitled to the widow’s pension by way of a basic pension/guaranteed minimum pension and an employment pension/earnings-related pension. The basic pension/guaranteed minimum pension is revoked when the widows qualify for the basic/guaranteed minimum pension under the old-age pension scheme.