Internationally, Sweden is still associated with a growth model that secures a high level of social equality via a strong universal welfare state. However, this perception overlooks a distinct rise in inequalities over the past 30 years.
Successive market-based reforms and structural change have created distinct regional socioeconomic disparities. This leads to the observation that there are four Swedens.
Inputs for overall growth and employment stem from a minority of regions. Municipalities in the lagging areas are increasingly under severe pressure to uphold attractive levels of high-quality public services for their populations.
Neither previous ongoing economic growth nor central government transfers to municipalities and EU regional funds have helped to balance the regional disparities and inequalities. On the contrary, they may have deepened the divide.
A new approach for regional development is needed.
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ℹ️ This report is part of a Policy Study series produced by FEPS and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. The indicators have been selected in collaboration with researchers from the Institut für Landes- und Stadtentwicklungsforschung. Check all the Unequal Europe publications here..