by John Brian Shannon | December 9, 2014
Sweden began governing with a unique brand of socialism in the 1960’s and almost everything in that small, but very picturesque nation of 9.5 million people has worked very well for citizens and non-Swedish residents since.
By combining results-oriented liberalism with a strong focus on the well-being of citizens and investing in a strong industrial base geared towards the export market, the country excelled and continues to excel in many aspects.
Some problems have arisen over the years as one would expect — it can’t be all Camelot and winter wonderland!
For example, during the worldwide financial crisis of 2008/09 Sweden’s unemployment rate shot up to 7.7% and some of the country’s generous benefits-to-citizens were slightly reduced.
Which was pretty shocking stuff for Swedes, as the unemployment rate historically fell within the 2-3% range and benefits had never been curtailed.
Like everything in Sweden, things are taken in stride. The most telling Swedish aphorism is; “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” And don’t forget that the Swedes see winter temperatures as low as -50 degrees every year, though most of the winter it stays at a relatively balmy -25 degrees. Usch!
Although Swede’s certainly enjoy a model society, they pay for it with some of the highest taxation levels on the planet as most employed people pay 50% tax rates or higher. Still, so many things are covered by the state and the society functions so well that it’s a good deal for everyone. An entire separate article would be required to list off every single benefit of living in Sweden’s social welfare state.
Full medical benefits, full medical prescription benefits, full dental benefits, full holistic medical treatment, full employment for life (or at the very least, a job-sharing programme), a very low crime rate, one of the highest life expectancies in the world, a high rating on the UN’s Happiness Index, among the highest literacy rate in the world and many other benefits are part of living in Sweden. That’s the short list!
World’s Happiest Nations are… [Sweden in 5th place] | CNN.com
‘Outstanding’ [2nd place] climate ranking at COP 20 for Sweden | The Local – Sweden
In Sweden, if the industry you work in can’t employ all of its workers, you’re automatically enrolled in a job-sharing scheme whereby you and one other worker ‘share’ a job over the course of the year. Each person in a job-sharing programme works for six months (or more) of the year. One person stays on unemployment insurance, while the other works.
The person who is ‘off work’ for up to six months must still make themselves available to cover any sick days or vacation times of the person who is ‘on work’ for six months. Not only that, but when the ‘off work’ person is called in, not only do they receive their normal unemployment benefits for those days, they also receive the regular hourly wage from the company for those days worked. “Yes, I’d be happy to come in and cover Sven’s shift for him.”
It is unknown in Sweden that a company is short-staffed and thus, cannot handle the workload. Orders are taken, projects are completed on-time/on-budget, companies prosper, and everyone benefits.
Everything in Swedish society functions with degrees of redundancy, not just employment. It’s part of the recipe for success.
Anyone who has visited or worked in Sweden, wants to live or retire there. It’s just that good.