The Finnish earnings-related pension system follows the principle of partial funding. This means that some of the pension contributions collected each year are put into funds and invested to help pay the pensions in the coming years. Most of the contributions collected yearly are used to pay the pensions of people who are currently on pension.

The following figures illustrate the circulation of earnings-related pension money. Since the private and public sectors apply different principles to the accumulation of funds, there are two separate circulation models. The sums refer to earnings-related pensions in 2017, since that is the most recent full year for which statistical data are available.

Circulation of earnings-related pension money 2017 -imagespptx, 638 kB

Circulation of earnings-related pension money in the private sector in 2017, EUR billion

Contributions collected

In 2017, the earnings-related pension contributions and the State’s shares collected in the private sector totalled EUR 16.5 billion. This sum included

  • the earnings-related pension contributions collected from both employers and employees,
  • the contributions paid by self-employed persons,
  • the State’s share of pensions paid to self-employed persons, farmers and seafarers,
  • as well as the share paid by the Unemployment Insurance Fund, which is used to cover pensions accrued while receiving earnings-related unemployment allowance.

Most of the contributions collected, or EUR 13.9 billion, was used directly for earnings-related pensions paid in 2017.

In all, EUR 2.2 billion of the contributions was transferred to funds. If the sum put into funds is compared against the earnings-related pension contributions collected from employers and employees (in total EUR 13.7 billion), the sum transferred to funds is about one sixth of the total. At the end of 2017, the earnings-related pension assets accumulated in the private sector totalled EUR 125.2 billion. This amount of pension assets refers to the net investment assets, which we also use in our statistics on investment assets.

A small percentage of the contributions collected, EUR 0.4 billion in 2017, was used towards the operating expenses of the authorized pension providers. This covers, for instance, the costs arising from the calculation and granting of earnings-related pensions and all operating expenses incurred by the authorized pension providers in the private sector.

Change in investment assets

The total assets are reduced by the sum that the total for pensions paid out of funds exceeds the amount of pension contributions put simultaneously into funds. The impact of investment returns on the amount of investment assets is even greater. Investments yield cash returns, i.e. dividends, interest and rental income, and the values of investments change depending on the market conditions.

Investments increased the amount of earnings-related pension assets in the private sector by EUR 8.8 billion in 2017. Changes in the value of investments accounted for most of this 8.8 billion (6.6 billion), while the rest (2.2 billion) came from cash returns.

Pensions paid

The earnings-related pensions paid in the private sector in 2017 totalled EUR 17.2 billion. EUR 13.9 billion of the earnings-related pension contributions collected in the same year were used to finance these pensions. The remainder, EUR 3.3 billion, was taken from funds.

Since 2013, the earnings-related pension expenditure in the private sector has been greater than the income obtained from the pensions contributions collected. The difference is covered by using the investment funds and returns from investments. Thus, investments play an important role in the payment of earnings-related pensions. This importance will increase further in the coming decades along with the growth in earnings-related pension expenditure.

Circulation of earnings-related pension money in the public sector in 2017, EUR billion

Contributions collected

In the public sector (municipalities, the State, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Kela, the Bank of Finland), earnings-related pension contributions and the State’s shares totalled EUR 9.2 billion. This sum included

  • the earnings-related pension contributions collected from both employers and employees,
  • the contributions collected from the State in its role as an employer,
  • other financing provided by the State,
  • as well as the share paid by the Unemployment Insurance Fund, which is used to cover pensions accrued while receiving earnings-related unemployment allowance.

Most of the contributions collected, or EUR 9.1 billion, was used directly to pay for earnings-related pensions in the public sector in 2017.

For example, in respect of the State Pension Fund, assets are no longer transferred to funds. Instead, assets are discharged for paying pensions.

A small percentage of the contributions collected, EUR 0.1 billion, was used towards the operating expenses of the authorized pension providers in the public sector.

Change in funds

In 2017, the amount of public-sector assets in funds increased by EUR 5.3 billion. EUR 4.0 billion of this sum arose from value changes and 1.3 billion from cash returns. At the end of 2016, the earnings-related pension funds in the public sector had a balance of EUR 74.7 billion.

Pensions paid

The total amount of earnings-related pensions paid in the public sector in 2017 came to EUR 9.8 billion. This was largely covered by contributions collected in the same year, which accounted for EUR 9.1 billion. 0.7 billion was taken from funds for the payment of earnings-related pensions.

As shown by the figures, the combined amount of earnings-related pension contributions and the State’s shares in the public sector (9.6 billion) was at the same level as the amount of pensions paid (9.6 billion). In previous years, the premiums have yet been higher than expenditure on pensions. It is estimated that a turn will occur in the public sector in 2017, after which the amount of pensions paid will be greater than the total sum of the earnings-related contributions collected.

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Circulation of earnings-related pension money 2016 -imagespdf, 284 kB

Circulation of earnings-related pension money 2015 -imagespdf, 589 kB

Circulation of earnings-related pension money 2014 -imagespdf, 144 kB