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June 16, 2006

The Paradise That is Sweden

A report on Sweden shows that it’s not quite all it’s cracked up to be. It’s one of those memes that travels around the net that they do in fact count unemployment in a different manner (ie, not according to OECD rules) than other countries. One of those mems I’m not quite sure about the truth of.

Sweden's unemployment rate is 15 per cent, three times the figure being used by the government, according to new research from McKinsey Global Institute, the think tank.

This bit though looks like something of an over-gloomy number:

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Sweden had dropped from fifth position in its welfare ranking to 112th in 2004.

Twelfth, maybe, but something of a stuttering finger there to make it 112th.

June 16, 2006 in Economics | Permalink


The McKinsey figures are very probably true. I lived in Sweden in 1998-2000, and the problem with the statistics was well known then. As with most governments, the Swedish one doesn't count poeple claiming certain kinds of benefits as being unemployed, e.g. long-term sick. The problem is that in Sweden the numbers of people on the long-term sickness benefit is much much greater than in other European countries, to the extent that it is often assumed to be a deliberate strategy by the government to massage figures. Certainly, the sickness benefit there is generous, and easy to get.

Posted by: willy | Jun 16, 2006 2:07:04 PM

Just like the UK then, eh?

Posted by: Peter Spence | Jun 16, 2006 2:12:12 PM

Overall labour force participation rates are pretty much equal to the UK - with Sweden having the slight edge.

Posted by: yellerKat | Jun 16, 2006 3:31:15 PM

Sweden looks pretty good to me...

/Friday misogyny

Posted by: Nosemonkey | Jun 16, 2006 3:59:35 PM

Hmmm, the figures you get on Europa are calculated according to the ILO definition. If it is easier to go on the long term sick in Sweden, then you would expect to see a larger propotion of malingerers, but being a malingerer is a choice, so I don't think it's correct to include them in ILO unemployment which is meant to be a measure of involuntary unemployment.

Posted by: dsquared | Jun 17, 2006 6:58:51 PM

Some funny numbers here:


(in french, but links are pointing to english articles)

Posted by: Laurent GUERBY | Jun 17, 2006 10:21:05 PM