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Economy of Sweden

Economy of Sweden
Currency Swedish krona (SEK, kr)
calendar year
Trade organisations
EU, OECD and others
GDP $552 billion (2013 est.) (nominal)
$393.8 billion (2013 est.) (PPP)
GDP rank 21st (nominal) / 33rd (PPP)
GDP growth
Increase1.5% (2013) [1]
GDP per capita
$40,900 (2013 est.) (PPP)
GDP by sector
agriculture: 1.8%, industry: 27.4%, services: 70.8 % (2012 est.)
Decrease0.9% (2012 est.)
23 (2005)
Labour force
5.143 million (August 2013)[2]
Labour force by occupation
agriculture: 1.1%, industry: 28.2%, services: 70.7% (2008 est.)
Unemployment 8.0% (August 2013)[3]
Average gross salary
3,911 € / 5,279 $, monthly (2006)[4]
2,155 € / 2,910 $, monthly (2006)[4]
Main industries
telecommunications equipment, wood pulp and paper products, motor vehicles, pharmaceutical products, iron and steel
Exports $178.5 billion (2012 est.)[6]
Export goods
machinery, motor vehicles, paper products, pulp and wood, iron and steel products, chemicals, military armaments
Main export partners
 Norway 10.4%
 Germany 10.3%
 United Kingdom 8.1%
 Denmark 6.7%
 Finland 6.7%
 Netherlands 5.5%
 United States 5.5%
 Belgium 5.0%
 France 4.8% (2012 est.)[7]
Imports $163.3 billion (2012 est.)
Import goods
machinery, petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, motor vehicles, iron and steel; foodstuffs, clothing
Main import partners
 Germany 17.4%
 Denmark 8.5%
 Norway 8.4%
 United Kingdom 6.5%
 Netherlands 6.4%
 Russia 5.6%
 Finland 5.1%
 China 4.9%
 France 4.2% (2012 est.)[8]
FDI stock
$488.2 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$1.034 trillion (31 December 2012)
Public finances
32% of GDP (end of 2012)[9]
Revenues $270 billion (2012 est.)
Expenses $271.5 billion (2012 est.)
Economic aid donor: ODA, $3.8 billion (April. 2007)
  • Standard & Poor's:[10]
    AAA (Domestic)
    AAA (Foreign)
    AAA (T&C Assessment)
    Outlook: Stable[11]
  • Moody's:[11]
    Outlook: Stable
  • Fitch:[11]
    Outlook: Stable
Foreign reserves
$52.23 billion (31 December 2012 est.)[12]
Main data source: CIA World Fact Book
All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars.

The economy of Sweden is a developed export-oriented diverse economy aided by timber, hydropower, and iron ore. These constitute the resource base of an economy oriented toward foreign trade. The main industries include motor vehicles, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, industrial machines, precision equipment, chemical goods, home goods and appliances, forestry, iron, and steel. Traditionally a modernised agricultural economy that used to employ over half of the domestic workforce, today Sweden further develops engineering, mine, steel, and pulp industries that are competitive internationally, such as the companies LM Ericsson, ASEA/ABB, SKF, Alfa Laval, Aga, and Dyno Nobel.[13]

Sweden is a highly competitive mixed-market economy featuring a generous universal welfare state financed through relatively high income taxes[14] that ensures that income is distributed across the entire society, a model sometimes called the Nordic model. Approximately 90% of all resources and companies are privately owned, with a minority of 5% owned by the state and another 5% operating as either consumer or producer cooperatives.[15]

Because Sweden as a neutral country did not actively participate in World War II, it did not have to rebuild its economic base, banking system, and country as a whole, as did many other European countries. Sweden has achieved a high standard of living under a mixed system of high-tech capitalism and extensive welfare benefits. Sweden has the second highest total tax revenue behind Denmark, as a share of the country's income. As of 2012, total tax revenue was 44.2% of GDP, down from 48.3% in 2006.[16]

The National Institute of Economic research predicts GDP growth of 1.8 %, 3.1 % and 3.4 % in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively.[17] A comparison of upcoming economic growth rates of EU countries revealed that the Baltic states, Poland and Slovakia are the only countries that are expected to keep comparable or higher growth rates.[18]


  • History 1
    • Crisis of the 1990s 1.1
  • Contemporary economy 2
    • Government 2.1
  • Economic and monetary union 3
  • Unemployment 4
  • Trade unions 5
  • Labor force 6
  • Ongoing and finished privatisations 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


In the 19th century Sweden evolved from a largely agricultural economy into the beginnings of an industrialized, urbanized country. Poverty was still widespread in sections of the population. However, incomes were sufficiently high to finance emigration to distant places, prompting a large portion of the country to leave, especially to the USA. Economic reforms and the creation of a modern economic system, banks and corporations were enacted during the latter half of the 19th century.

By the 1930s, Sweden had what Life magazine called in 1938 the "world's highest standard of living".[19] Sweden was also the first country worldwide to recover completely from the Great Depression. Sweden declared itself neutral during both world wars, thereby avoiding much physical destruction like several other neutral countries. The post-war boom propelled Sweden to greater economic prosperity, putting the country in third place in per capita GDP rankings by 1970.[20] Beginning in the 1970s and culminating with the deep recession of the early 1990s, Swedish standards of living developed less favorably than many other industrialized countries. Since the mid-1990s the economic performance has improved.

In 2009, Sweden had the world's tenth highest GDP per capita in nominal terms and was in 14th place in PPP terms.[21]

Crisis of the 1990s

Sweden has had an economic model in the post-

  • Malminen, J., Managing global finance: Choices and constraints in the Swedish financial crisis of 1992. 2005. [3]
  • CIA World Factbook: Sweden
  • OECD's Sweden country Web site and OECD Economic Survey of Sweden
  • Sveriges Riksbank (Swedish Central Bank)
  • Statistics Sweden
  • Sweden Global Investment Discussion by N. Vardy, August 2006
  • Sweden – Economic Growth and Structural Change, 1800–2000 – EH.Net Encyclopedia
  • United States Department of State – Sweden
  • World Bank Summary Trade Statistics Sweden
  • Banks in Sweden: useful information about the financial institutions in the country
  • Tariffs applied by Sweden as provided by ITC's Market Access Map, an online database of customs tariffs and market requirements.

External links

  1. ^ "BNP ökade 3,1 procent (4:e kvartalet)". Statistic Sweden. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  2. ^ Statistics Sweden
  3. ^ Eurostat Unemployment
  4. ^ a b Wages and Taxes for the Average Joe in the EU 2
  5. ^ "Doing Business in Sweden 2013".  
  6. ^ Statistics Sweden
  7. ^ "Export Partners of Sweden".  
  8. ^ "Import Partners of Sweden".  
  9. ^ Share of GDP. Retrieved on 2013-01-29.
  10. ^ "Sovereigns rating list". Standard & Poor's. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c Rogers, Simon; Sedghi, Ami (15 April 2011). "How Fitch, Moody's and S&P rate each country's credit rating". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  12. ^ "CIA World Fact book – SWEDEN". CIA. 31 December 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2013. 
  13. ^ Agricultural toward Industrial|Swedish economic history. (28 September 2012). Retrieved on 2013-01-29.
  14. ^ Sweden today. (28 September 2012). Retrieved on 2013-01-29.
  15. ^ Comparative Economic Systems, "Swedens Welfare State"
  16. ^ Skattetrycket | Skattetryck | Skatter | Fakta och statistik. Retrieved on 2013-01-29.
  17. ^ "Swedish economy marking time". NIER. Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  18. ^ "Taking Europe's Pulse". The Economist. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  19. ^ "King Gustaf of Sweden". Life. 11 July 1938. p. 31. Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ " – Country Briefings: Sweden". The Economist. 
  22. ^ a b Steinmo, Sven. 2001. "Bucking the Trend? The Welfare State and Global Economy: The Swedish Case Up Close." University of Colorado, 18 December.
  23. ^ Computer Sweden 20 nov 1992
  24. ^ Computer Sweden 5 nov 1993
  25. ^ Krona's Fall Threatens a New Currency Crisis in Europe – International Herald Tribune
  26. ^ Ergungor: On the resolution of financial crises, the Swedish experience
  27. ^
  28. ^ (Swedish) Anförande vid the Economists konferens om Sverige. Retrieved on 2013-01-29.
  29. ^ From War to the Swedish Model | Swedish economic history. (28 September 2012). Retrieved on 2013-01-29.
  30. ^ 20 largest companies in Sweden
  31. ^ a b c d e Economic survey of Sweden 2007
  32. ^ Pension Reform in Sweden: Lessons for American Policymakers by Goran Normann, PhD and Daniel J. Mitchell, PhD 29 June 2000.
  33. ^ OECD Economic Surveys: Sweden – Volume 2005 Issue 9 by OECD Publishing
  34. ^ World Economic Forum – Global Competitiveness Report
  35. ^ The Heritage Foundation: 2012 Index of Economic Freedom
  36. ^ IMD Competitiveness Yearbook 2008
  37. ^ ""Sweden most creative country in Europe & top talent hotspot", Invest in Sweden Agency, 25 June 2005.
  38. ^ "Main Science and Technology Indicators" (PDF). Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  39. ^$File/prm050228.pdf
  40. ^ "Sweden facing possible property bubble warns IMF". Sweden News.Net. 24 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^ "Sweden turns back on euro". BBC News. 15 September 2003. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  44. ^ "Sweden Unemployment Rate". Index Mundi. Retrieved 2011-12-12. 
  45. ^ Denmark's Overrated "Flexicurity"
  46. ^ Alla behövs Pdf file
  47. ^ "Labour Force Survey". Statistics Sweden. Retrieved 11 July 2011. 
  48. ^ Arbetsgivarna starkare än fackföreningarna. DN.SE (18 June 2009). Retrieved on 2013-01-29.
  49. ^ Kjellberg, Anders Kollektivavtalens täckningsgrad samt organisationsgraden hos arbetsgivarförbund och fackförbund, Department of Sociology, Lund University. Studies in Social Policy, Industrial Relations, Working Life and Mobility. Research Reports 2013:1, Appendix 3 Table A
  50. ^ Anders Kjellberg Kollektivavtalens täckningsgrad samt organisationsgraden hos arbetsgivarförbund och fackförbund, Department of Sociology, Lund University. Studies in Social Policy, Industrial Relations, Working Life and Mobility. Research Reports 2013:1, Appendix 3 (in English) Table F
  51. ^ Kjellberg, Anders (2000) "The Multitude of Challenges Facing Swedish Trade Unions", in Jeremy Waddington & Reiner Hoffmann (eds.) Trade Unions in Europe: Facing Challenges and Searching For Solutions, Bryssels: European Trade Union Institute, pp. 529-573, in particular pp. 544-547. ISBN 2-930143-36-3
  52. ^ Reduced state ownership
  53. ^ [2]
  54. ^ Privata Affärer – Staten fick 18 miljarder för aktierna i Teliasonera
  55. ^ "Regeringen har sålt hela OMX-innehavet". Dagens Industri. 15 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-02. 
  56. ^ "Pernod wins auction for Vin & Sprit". The Local. 31 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  57. ^ Shareholders |


Other links

See also

-Completed Privatisations:

  • Apoteketpharmaceuticals. Was partially privatised during the center-right government of Fredrik Reinfeldt.
  • Telia Soneratelecom. 37.3% owned by the Swedish government.[53] Hitherto SEK 18 billion worth of shares has been sold reducing state ownership from 45.3% to 37.3%.[54]
  • SBAB – finance. As of October 2013, it seems that plans to privatize this company have been suspended or halted.

-Ongoing Privatisations:

The Swedish government has announced that it will privatise a number of wholly and partly state owned companies. "The income from these sales will be used to pay off the government debt and reduce the burden of debt for future generations. The Government's ambition is to sell companies to a value of SEK 200 billion during 2007–2010."[52] [1]

Ongoing and finished privatisations

The traditionally low-wage differential has increased in recent years as a result of increased flexibility as the role of wage setting at the company level has strengthened somewhat. Still, Swedish unskilled employees are well paid while well educated Swedish employees are low-paid compared with those in competitor countries in Western Europe and the US. The average increases in real wages in recent years have been high by historical standards, in large part due to unforeseen price stability. Even so, nominal wages in recent years have been slightly above those in competitor countries. Thus, while private-sector wages rose by an average annual rate of 3.75% from 1998 to 2000 in Sweden, the comparable increase for the EU area was 1.75%. In the year 2000 the total labour force was around 4.4 million people.

Labor force

Sweden has still not joined the EMU (the Economic and Monetary Union / the Euro) and will not in the foreseeable future. When the issue was at the agenda, the Swedish union movement was very split.[51] In contrast to the very positive attitude of employers' associations, the union rank-and file opinion was so split that several unions, as well as the confederations LO, TCO and SACO, abstained from taking an official position.

The unionisation rate among minimum wage that is required by legislation. Instead, minimum wage standards in different sectors are normally set by collective bargaining. About 90% of all workers are covered by collective agreements, in the private sector about 85% (2012).[50]

Around seventy percent of the Swedish labour force is unionised.[48] For most blue-collar workers), maintains close links to one of the two major parties, the Social Democrats.

Trade unions

According to Swedish Statistics, unemployment in June 2013 was 9.1% in the general population and 29% amongst 15- to 25-year-old.[47]

According to [46] Some critics disagree with this concept of "actual" unemployment, also termed "broad unemployment", since they do not see e.g. students who rather want a job, people on sick leave and military conscripts as "unemployed".

In contrast with most other European countries, Sweden maintained an unemployment rate around 2% or 3% of the work force throughout the 1980s.[44] This was, however, accompanied by high and accelerating inflation. It became evident that such low unemployment rates were not sustainable, and in the severe crisis of the early 1990s the rate increased to more than 8%. In 1996 the government set out a goal of reducing unemployment to 4% by 2000. During 2000 employment rose by 90,000 people, the greatest increase in 40 years, and the goal was reached in the autumn of 2000. The same autumn the government set out its new target: that 80% of the working age population will have a regular job by 2004. Some have expressed concern that meeting the employment target may come at a cost of too high a rate of wage increases hence increasing inflation. However, as of August 2006, roughly 5% of working age Swedes were unemployed, over the government-established goal. However, some of the people who cannot find work are put away in so-called "labour market political activities", referred to as "AMS-åtgärder".[45]


In the first years of the twenty-first century, a majority for joining emerged in the governing Social Democratic party, although the question was subject of heated debate, with leading personalities in the party on both sides. On 14 September 2003, a national referendum was held on the euro. A 56% majority of Swedes rejected the common currency, while 42% voted in favour of it.[43] Currently no plans for a new referendum or parliamentary vote on the matter are being discussed, though it has been implied that another referendum may take place in around ten years.

Current economic development reflects a quite remarkable improvement of the Swedish economy since the crisis in 1991–93, so that Sweden could easily qualify for membership in the third phase of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union, adopting the euro as its currency. In theory, by the rules of the EMU, Sweden is obliged to join, since the country has not obtained exception by any protocol or treaty (as opposed to Denmark and the United Kingdom). Nevertheless, the Swedish government decided in 1997 against joining the common currency from its start on 1 January 1999. This choice was implemented by exploiting a legal loophole, deliberately staying out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. This move is currently tolerated by the European Central Bank, which however has warned that this would not be the case for newer EU members.

Economic and monetary union

From the perspective of longer term fiscal sustainability, the long-awaited reform of old-age pensions entered into force in 1999. This entails a far more robust system vis-à-vis adverse demographic and economic trends, which should keep the ratio of total pension disbursements to the aggregate wage bill close to 20% in the decades ahead. Taken together, both fiscal consolidation and pension reform have brought public finances back on a sustainable footing. Gross public debt, which jumped from 43% of GDP in 1990 to 78% in 1994, stabilised around the middle of the 1990s and started to come down again more significantly beginning in 1999. In 2000 it fell below the key level of 60% and had declined to a level of 35% of GDP as of 2010.[42]

The government budget has improved dramatically from a record deficit of more than 12% of GDP in 1993. In the last decade, from 1998 to present, the government has run a surplus every year, except for 2003 and 2004. The surplus for 2011 is expected to be 99 billion ($15b) kronor.[41] The new, strict budget process with spending ceilings set by the Riksdag, and a constitutional change to an independent Central Bank, have greatly improved policy credibility.


By 2014, legislators, economists and the IMF were warning of a bubble with residential property prices soaring and the level of personal mortgage debt expanding. Household debt-to-income rose above 170% as the IMF called on legislators to consider zoning reform and other means of generating a greater supply of housing as demand was outstripping supply. By August 2014, 40% of home borrowers had interest-only loans while those that didn't were repaying principal at a rate that would take 100 years to fully repay.[40]

Since the mid-1990s the export sector has been booming, acting as the main engine for economic growth. Swedish exports also have proven to be surprisingly robust. A marked shift in the structure of the exports, where services, the IT industry, and telecommunications have taken over from traditional industries such as steel, paper and pulp, has made the Swedish export sector less vulnerable to international fluctuations. However, at the same time the Swedish industry has received less money for its exports while the import prices have gone up. During the period 1995–2003 the export prices were reduced by 4% at the same time as the import prices climbed by 11%. The net effect is that the Swedish terms-of-trade fell 13%.[39]

The Swedish economic picture has brightened significantly since the severe recession in the early 1990s. Growth has been strong in recent years, and even though the growth in the economy slackened between 2001 and 2003, the growth rate has picked up since with an average growth rate of 3.7% in the last three years. The long-run prospects for growth remain favorable. The inflation rate is low and stable, with projections for continued low levels over the next 2–3 years.

The largest trade flows are with Germany, United States, Norway, United Kingdom, Denmark and Finland.

Sweden rejected the Euro in a referendum in 2003, and Sweden maintains its own currency, the Swedish krona (SEK). The Swedish Riksbank—founded in 1668 and thus making it the oldest central bank in the world—is currently focusing on price stability with its inflation target of 2%. According to Economic Survey of Sweden 2007 by OECD, the average inflation in Sweden has been one of the lowest among European countries since the mid-1990s, largely because of deregulation and quick utilization of globalization.[31]

World Economic Forum 2012–2013 competitiveness index ranks Sweden 4th most competitive.[34] The Index of Economic Freedom 2012 ranks Sweden the 21st most free out of 179 countries, or 10th out of 43 European countries.[35] Sweden ranked 9th in the IMD Competitiveness Yearbook 2008, scoring high in private sector efficiency.[36] According to the book, The Flight of the Creative Class, by the U.S. urban studies, Professor Richard Florida of University of Toronto, Sweden is ranked as having the best creativity in Europe for business and is predicted to become a talent magnet for the world's most purposeful workers. The book compiled an index to measure the kind of creativity it claims is most useful to business – talent, technology and tolerance.[37] Sweden's investment into research and development stood, in 2007, at over 3.5% of GDP. This is considerably higher than that of a number of MEDCs, including the United States, and is the largest among the OECD members.[38]

Some 4.5 million residents are working, out of which around a third with tertiary education. GDP per hour worked is the world's 9th highest at 31 USD in 2006, compared to 22 USD in Spain and 35 USD in United States.[31] According to OECD, deregulation, globalization, and technology sector growth have been key productivity drivers.[31] GDP per hour worked is growing 2 12 per cent a year for the economy as a whole and trade-terms-balanced productivity growth 2%.[31] Sweden is a world leader in privatized pensions and pension funding problems are small compared to many other Western European countries.[32] Swedish labor market has become more flexible, but it still has some widely acknowledged problems.[31] The typical worker receives only 40% of his income after the tax wedge. The slowly declining overall taxation, 51.1% of GDP in 2007, is still nearly double of that in the United States or Ireland. Civil servants amount to a third of Swedish workforce, multiple times the proportion in many other countries. Overall, GDP growth has been fast since reforms in the early 1990s, especially in manufacturing.[33]

The 20 largest Sweden-registered companies by turnover in 2013 were Volvo, Ericsson, Vattenfall, Skanska, Hennes & Mauritz, Electrolux, Volvo Personvagnar, Preem, TeliaSonera, Sandvik, ICA, Atlas Copco, Nordea, Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget, Scania, Securitas, Nordstjernan, SKF, ABB Norden Holding and Sony Mobile Communications AB, .[30] Sweden's industry is overwhelmingly in private control; unlike some other industrialized Western countries, such as Austria, Italy or Finland, state owned enterprises were always of minor importance. One important exception to this rule is LKAB, which is a state-owned mining company, mostly active in the northern part of the country.

Sweden is an export-oriented mixed economy featuring a modern distribution system, excellent internal and external communications, and a skilled labor force. Timber, hydropower and iron ore constitute the resource base of an economy heavily oriented toward foreign trade. Sweden's engineering sector accounts for 50% of output and exports. Telecommunications, the automotive industry and the pharmaceutical industries are also of great importance. Agriculture accounts for 2 percent of GDP and employment.

Sweden Export Treemap by Product (2011) from Harvard Atlas of Economic Complexity.
Real GDP growth in Sweden 1996–2006.

Contemporary economy

However, the reforms enacted during the 1990s seem to have created a model in which extensive welfare benefits can be maintained in a global economy.[22]

The crisis of the 1990s was by some viewed as the end of the much buzzed welfare model called "Svenska modellen", literally "The Swedish Model", as it proved that governmental spending at the levels previously experienced in Sweden was not long term sustainable in a global open economy.[28] Much of the Swedish Model's acclaimed advantages actually had to be viewed as a result of the post WWII special situation, which left Sweden untouched when competitors' economies were comparatively weak.[29]

The welfare system that had been growing rapidly since the 1970s could not be sustained with a falling GDP, lower employment and larger welfare payments. In 1994 the government budget deficit exceeded 15% of GDP. The response of the government was to cut spending and institute a multitude of reforms to improve Sweden's competitiveness. When the international economic outlook improved combined with a rapid growth in the IT sector, which Sweden was well positioned to capitalize on, the country was able to emerge from the crisis.[27]

A real estate boom ended in a bust. The government took over nearly a quarter of banking assets at a cost of about 4% of the nation's GDP. This was known colloquially as the "Stockholm Solution". The United States Federal Reserve remarked in 2007, that "In the early 1970s, Sweden had one of the highest income levels in Europe; today, its lead has all but disappeared... So, even well-managed financial crises don't really have a happy ending."[26]

Total employment fell by almost 10% during the crisis. [25] briefly jacking up interest to 500% in an unsuccessful effort to defend the currency's fixed exchange rate.central bank, the currency In 1992 there was a run on the [24] The investment levels for IT and computers were restored as early as 1993.[23]

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