I lived in Norway for a few years. The main forms of savings among people I knew there, were property, cash. There isn’t usually much need for a private pension because company-paid pensions & state pension are usually extremely generous and well funded (and in the case of government employees, backed by the national oil wealth fund). Where I worked about 22% of salary was added on as the pension contribution, and it was defined benefit so the risk lay with the employer/fund.
Workers have a lot of rights, so working till retirement isn’t quite as bad as it might seem, in fact it’s quite pleasant.
Where I worked there were MANY older employees - maybe 60-70% of the organisation - and it was almost a social club as much as anything else. Opposite my office I had a gym, a few doors down, the nap room / massage room (massage chair & regular visiting masseur), the other direction, a break room with plants and a good view and free coffee etc. It wasn’t unusual to walk by people’s offices in the afternoon to notice them just reading the newspaper, since taking a little break every now and then is quite sensible and healthy. As is visiting your colleagues for a chat. A subsidised canteen with a full-time cook and a wide range of healthy fresh food, meetings held at spas and ski lodges, support for conference travel, training etc. This wasn’t anything special, just a regular government job. We were paid to exercise - you could take 1 hour a week and go running or organise a sports club as part of your salary pay. Automatic flexitime, change to 60-80% part-time work and back again, work from home if you like (pre-covid), superb maternity/paternity leave, no unpaid overtime, whatever equipment you needed (including for your comfort in the office - I had a personal office with standing/sitting desk). Cast iron guarantee that your holidays, evenings, weekends & sick leave would not be interrupted by work related phone calls except in extreme emergency. Feeling stressed? Get a doctor’s note and take a month or two off work till you feel better. Disabled unexpectedly? Don’t worry, we’ll find a way for you to contribute.
Why retire when you can get paid incredibly well, some of the best wages in Europe, to hang out with your old buddies in highly paid jobs-for-life, and take naps, coffee, cake and massages - or just stay at home and work for a few hours then go out skiing or cycling?
Working till later in life simply isn’t that awful in Norway. And if someone WAS foolish enough to retire, well, I guess we’ll take a couple of hours at lunch with a galaxy sized fancy marzipan cake to celebrate that. Which was almost once every 2 weeks when I was there.
In a Norwegian workplace you can expect to be treated with at least the minimum level of respect any human being deserves, which is not the case in most other countries I’ve worked in. Managers operate by consent. If your manager comes to you with a stupid request, you hardly even need to say no, your tone of voice or raised eyebrows will probably have them backtracking quickly. Things like people showing up for work drunk? Bullying, violence? Heck no. Sexism, ageism? Absolutely no way! I worked in an IT department and half the staff were women and most of the staff were over 40. Strong unions. Mandatory equality of wages between the sexes, with rules you could invoke to automatically change your salary if you noticed any error.
Perhaps in the oil fields though, you might see sexism or bullying? I don’t know. I would be surprised even there.
Alcohol is only available from the government-run monopoly shops and the price is extremely high, so people are generally serious, sober and well educated. Oslo & Bergen have a drugs problem though among younger people.
At the time I was there, saving in stocks didn’t make much sense to locals because a) they were seen as risky b) they are heavily taxed both CGT & dividends c) there were no tax-free stock investment accounts (there is now; it’s a deferred-till-the-end account) d) immature tech & market connections at local banks for doing trading e) there’s also a wealth tax f) and the Norwegian stockmarket is pretty much Equinor plus a smattering of small companies. So if someone wants to ‘do stocks’, they either buy a fund or they buy Equinor / Norwegian index.
Frankly, the local stockmarket listings were overpriced, full of loss making companies, and not very impressive, with the exception of Equinor and (at the time) Marine Harvest, a salmon farming company. The only person I knew with a managed fund was a Dutchman.
In the last ten years the housing bubble has gradually drawn in everyone’s money - you ‘can’t lose’ with property in a bubble after all, and the tax system gives incredible advantages to investment in housing.
Adults under age 40 of course have no opportunity to save in stocks anyway, because 100% of their money is going towards tax, student loans & their vastly, ridiculously overpriced first tiny property & costs of having a family. And lately energy costs, which Norwegians are universally FURIOUS about at the moment. I had the strong feeling everyone else was spending 90-100% of incoming pay, secure in the knowledge the next paycheque would always be arriving and retirement was already being taken care of.
Talking to former-students there, who are now in their 30s, it seems that stocks and ETFS have become more popular lately because of the media coverage of meme investing and because of the new tax-deferred stock accounts.