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Sweden — Europe’s Wunderkind?

What can EU member countries learn from their economic wunderkind?

May 25, 2001

What can EU member countries learn from their economic wunderkind?

Famous for Volvo cars and Wasa crispbread, the Swedes have also a reputation for running one of the most generous social welfare systems financed by some of the highest taxes in the world. Situated in the heart of Scandinavia, this country of almost nine million people has undergone a tremendous transformation. As this Globalist Factsheet makes clear, there is much more to Sweden than IKEA and Pippi Longstocking.

How did Sweden’s economy perform over the last decade?

From 1990 to 1999, Sweden’s productivity climbed 47%. Over the same period, productivity increased by 39% in the United States — and only 31% in the EU as a whole. (Forbes)

How state-of-the-art is Sweden in the IT area?

As of 2000, information investment in communications technology in Sweden accounts for a litte less than 8% of GDP. That figure is comparable to that of the United States, the global leader in investment for that sector.
(Deutsche Bank Research)

How is that reflected in every-day life?

Ninety-five percent of schools in Sweden have Internet access. In contrast, only 53% of high-schools in France have Internet access — and only 23% of Italian schools.
(European Union)

How much do investors like Sweden?

As of 1999, the United Kingdom was theonly European country receiving more venture capital as a share of its GDP than Sweden.
(Dresdner Kleinwort Benson)

Is there anything that irritates potential investors?

As of 1998, the public sector in Sweden still employs more than 30% of the country’s workforce. (Financial Times)

Just how high are Sweden’s taxes?

As of 1999, Sweden’s tax-to-GDP ratio of 52% is the highest among the 30 OECD member countries. (OECD)

Where does all the tax money go?

Sweden, with the world’s highest taxes, spends a larger share of gross domestic product than any other country on education. Spending was 8.3% of gross national product in 1997. (Financial Times)

How powerful are women in Sweden?

In 2000, women held 45% of the seats in the Swedish legislature — the highest percentage in the European Union. While women in Britain have 17.1% of seats in Parliament. France ranked last in the European Union, with only 8.2% of women holding seats in the French legislature. (New York Times)

In which other area does Sweden lead Europe?

In Sweden, 74% of the population of working age is in paid employment — a level far above the European Union average and on par with that of the United States. (Financial Times)

And finally, where does Sweden stand on the European Monetary Union?

The two EU countries with the oldest central banks — Sweden’s Riksbank was founded in 1668, and the Bank of England in 1694 — have not joined EMU. (The Globalist)