macrohistory & world report

Kingdom of Sweden

map of sweden

Sweden, its capital Stockholm, and neighboring states

World Factbook as of October 2014: "Aided by peace and neutrality for the whole of the 20th century, Sweden has achieved an enviable standard of living under a mixed system of high-tech capitalism and extensive welfare benefits. It has a modern distribution system, excellent internal and external communications, and a skilled labor force... Privately owned firms account for about 90% of industrial output, of which the engineering sector accounts for 50% of output and exports...Strong exports of commodities and a return to profitability by Sweden's banking sector drove a rebound in 2010, but growth slipped in 2013, as a result of continued economic weakness in the EU – Sweden's main export market."

Economic growth rate:
2013: 0.9%
2012: 1.2%

Unemployment rate
2013: 8.1%
2012: 7.5%
2011: 7.6%
2010: 8.4%

The Swedish government offers a national health insurance program that covers all citizens. Patients pay a fee for consultations and prescription medications. The state pays for dental care, partially for those over 19 years of age and free for those under 19. About half of all dentists in Sweden work for government dental services. Children also receive free eye checkups and, if needed, glasses. 

2011: Sweden is selling abroad well enough. Its exports are 108.96% of imports in cash value.

Taxes (2013)
For a single worker without children, in the year 2001, including contributions to Social Security, a Swede earning an average wage paid 48.6% of income to the tax man. In the US this was 30%, in Australia 23.1%, in Belgium 55.6%.  The Swedes could vote out of office those who maintain their tax rate at the higher level that they still pay in 2011. That they have not means that a majority believes that government expenditures are worth the money.

To encourage people out of their cars, Swedish municipalities have been upgrading their bicycle routes and introducing new routes.

Swedish road traffic is said to be the safest in the world. The United States has around 2.5 times as many deaths from traffic accidents per capita. sweden has its upper class, and its people of wealth including men of industry.


Sweden has been described as having high social mobility – the ability to rise in society "no matter who your daddy was or who he wasn't, or who your mamma was," to quote the conservative from Texas, Phil Gramm. As of December 2014, Sweden tops the list for income comparisons among families, the Gini Index, Sweden the most equal. But Sweden has citizens who are much more wealthy than others, and some of them are industrialists. As article on Sweden's inequality is here:

Gender Gap
The World Economic Forum lists Sweden as leading the world in the elimination of a gender gap. 

Living in an urban area
2010: 85%

Maternity and Paternity Leave
Each day that a working person is off the job because of illness or to care for a sick child, he or she receives 80% of their lost income. Parents can take as many as 60 days as paid leave to care for an ill child under age 12. Fathers take about 41% of this leave. Working grandparents may do the same. Parents can also take as many as five days per year to attend a child's school or other needs not related to sickness. (Valid perhaps in 2005)

For years in Sweden junk food advertising has been banned from children's television programs. 

Families with only one parent at home are 3%, compared to 11% for Canada, 10% for Britain and 9% for the US, Finland, Norway and Ireland. Teenage out-of-wedlock pregnancy and abortion rates are also low. (Valid perhaps in 2005)

Sweden is second behind Switzerland in the number of Nobel laureates per 10 million in population: 22 for Switzerland and 11.0 for Sweden. The US is fourth with 9.8. (, February 22, 2010)

Sweden ranks fifth in the number of medals won Olympic summer games. Per capita it is second, just behind Finland. (2003)


Between Norway and Finland. Slightly larger than California. Capital: Stockholm.

Government and Alliances

Sweden is a constitutional monarchy, its official title: the Kingdom of Sweden.


The government subsidizes newspapers regardless of political slant. There are public television stations and numerous commercial broadcast stations.

Recent History

Riots, May 2013

Sweden has been a member of the European Union since 1995.  It has not been a member of NATO.

Sweden passed a law on January 1, 1999, against anyone paying for sex. The law was inserted into the criminal code on April 1, 2005. Convictions bring a fine or a maximum prison sentence of six months. By March, 2008, there were about 500 convictions but no one sent to prison.

At the turn of the century a Swedish executive at Volvo Inc was asked, "Why don't you leave (Sweden)? Certainly, you would pay a lot lower taxes and probably also have a higher salary in the US" He responded that yes he would have more money in his pocket working in the United States but that he would also almost never get home before 7 o'clock and certainly would not have the vacations everyone has a right to in Sweden. He added:

I would have to spend a lot more money on insurance, college for my kids, and travel back home to my family. In the end, I'm not really sure I would be any better off. (Bucking the Trend? The Welfare State and Global Economy: The Swedish Case Up Close, by Sven Steinmo, 2001)

Sweden has cut its own airborne pollutant productions by about half between 1985 and 2005. Acid rain caused by sulfur dioxide has declined in recent years. Much of this rain has origins from outside Sweden. As elsewhere in Europe's far north, Sweden is still troubled by acid rain, which has spread mercury and killed its lakes.

In Sweden, suicides have been declining, from a high of 22.3 per 100,000 in 1970 to 13.4 in 2001. The Suicide rate in close to that of the US but less than Russia. Russia in 2002 had 69.3 suicides per 100,000 people. The United States in 2001 had 10.4. In both the US and Sweden a steep rise occurs in males by age 75: 60.9 per 100,000 population in the US and 42.2 in Sweden. (These figures are from the World Health Organization) 

Sweden's foreign minister, Anna Lindh, was attacked on September 10, 2003 and died on September 11, 2003, further shaking the sense of security and freedom that Swedes have felt. The assassin is believed to be Miljailo Mijailovic, the son of Serbian immigrants. He is reported to have freely confessed. He is said to have been released from a mental institution five days before the assassination and to have been angered by Lindh's support for the military campaign against Serbia, led by the United States, in 1999. He is serving a life sentence.

The assassination of Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1986 is unsolved and leaves the Swedish people disturbed. Palme is believed to have been hated by fascists, anti-communists, including some in the United States, and by weapons dealers. The latest (March 2006), and most credible theory, is that the assassin was a hit man for someone with an interest in illegal arms sales from Sweden to Iran.

From June 1, 2005 all restaurants, bars and cafes have been smoke-free.

Mar 2006: A comment found on the net: "I lived in Sweden for 4 years and I found it a lot safer than Ireland."

Dec 15, 2008: "One hundred and thirty days. That's how much time each year many Swedish white-collar workers aren't working at the office according to a new calculation made by The Local and confirmed by Swedish academics." (Published in The Local, Sweden's News in English.)

November 5, 2010: Being centrist or conservative has a different meaning in Sweden than it does in the United States. Sweden is governed today by a center right coalition of four political parties led by Fredrik Reinfeldt, in office since defeating the Social Democrats in 2006. In September he became the first leader from Sweden's center-right since World War II to serve two consecutive terms. Prime Minister trimmed benefits and sold some state assets, putting a little more emphasis on free enterprise. It is said that the Social Democrats – Sweden's labor party – were leaning in that direction and that it was a matter of how fast they were willing to go. There was some concern about reduced incentive. Keeping the system working efficiently has been important to both the Social Democrats and the center-right parties.

November 15: The New America Foundation, a public policy institute in the US, has complained that "Sweden has not taken sufficient measures to reduce its current account surplus." In other words, Sweden is faulted for having gained more in wealth by selling stuff abroad than it has spent buying stuff from abroad. There are Swedes who ridicule the complaint, one describing Americans as "endless consumers and asking, "Hey America, why don't you spend less."

May 2013: Adrian Wooldridge, in a February Economist writes: "For the Nordic countries to be able to afford their welfare states they need to have 80% of their adults in the workforce, but labour-force participation among non-European immigrants is much lower than that. In Sweden only 51% of non-Europeans have a job, compared with over 84% of native Swedes. The Nordic countries need to persuade their citizens that they are getting a good return on their taxes, but mass immigration is creating a class of people who are permanently dependent on the state."

The days of rioting in immigrant neighborhoods just ended is expected to boost the Sweden Democrats, a self-described nationalist party, which placed third in elections earlier this year. In the 2010 general election, the Sweden Democrats crossed the 4 percent threshold needed for parliamentary representation. It was founded in 1988 and today holds 20 of 349 parliament seats.

The World Factbook

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