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More pensioners working and starting businesses

A third of retired entrepreneurs in Finland continue to work part-time after they officially retire.

Eila Hanhela aikoo yrittää "täysillä loppuun asti".
Retiree Eila Hanhela runs a farmstead cafe near Oulu. Image: Arto Veräjänkorva / Yle

One in three pensioners who used to own a business continues to work after retirement, according to a June study from Finland's Centre for Pensions. An examination of data from Statistics Finland on 58,000 retirees found that 33 percent of former business owners continue to work in some capacity after retirement, compared to only about 10 percent of pensioners who used to do salaried work.

Finland has about 1.5 million pensioners at present, and another Pension Centre study from last summer found that ten percent of them have real difficulty making ends meet, while half of the surveyed pensioners reported occasions when they were unable to pay their bills. One-third said they had no money left after the payment of necessary bills and expenses.

"Keeping dementia at bay"

As in many other western countries, the percentage of pensioners who continue to work in Finland has been growing. For many former entrepreneurs in particular, extended careers are necessary because they feel they were unable to pay enough into self-employed pension funds (YEL) when they were younger. The Pension Centre says one in three retired business owners end up in in this situation.

"Some of the pensioners that continue to work are motivated by financial reasons, but even more emphasise the ability to contribute to something meaningful and stay social," says the Centre's researcher Anu Polvinen.

80-year-old Eila Hanhela has been running a farmstead cafe from her home in Oulu's Haukipudas area for four years. She begins every day early, baking treats for her establishment. Then she heads outside to feed her donkey, sheep and chickens.

Story continues after photo.

Äänimaisemaa hallitsee lauma lampaita.
Customers are welcome to visit Hanhela's farm animals. Image: Arto Veräjänkorva / Yle

"In the morning, everything aches and my joints are stiff, but once I get going, everything is fine," she says.

Hanhela says she believes that her little business will keep dementia at bay, and is happy it offers her opportunities to meet people. She says she primarily advertises on Facebook and Instagram, as newspaper ads are prohibitively expensive. She says having things to do and goals everyday has made retired life more fulfilling.

"A person my age once told me that they would go out with their boots on. That's my plan," she says laughing.

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