There are many fundamental issues that can only be solved by very unpopular political decisions, meaning nothing is done because it would be political suicide in the short/mid-term (the next 4-8 years).
1) While the Swedish state has strong finances, the Swedish communes (responsible for most of the practical welfare, like healthcare, education, and so on) are struggling significantly. Taxes likely need to be raised 5 percentage points over the next 10 years just to maintain the current level of welfare. And that is not factoring in the missing professionals, like teachers and nurses. These professions are very poorly compensated so a lot of them quit. On top of the issues with the communes, the Swedish households are among the most indebted in the world, due to cheap mortgages on houses and a housing bubble that is just slowly beginning to deflate. The next recession will be very tough.
2) Sweden has failed with immigrating all low-skilled refugees and economic migrants from third world countries. I think Sweden should be applauded for trying to do the humanitarian thing by helping people in need, but what has happened is that there have been too many low skilled people, too quickly for them to be absorbed into Sweden. This cohort of immigrants simply do not have the skills or education to not be an economic burden on the Swedish society. The costs are enormous. In Sweden the talk is about we've created an "ethnic lower class" that can only survive on welfare. The problem is a welfare state only works if a vast majority pitch in to the welfare state. This is a big contributing factor to many issues in Sweden right now. At the same time, the big unions and the Social Democratic party is hostile to skilled workers coming to Sweden because they may compete with the union members, leading to a lot of skilled engineers and similar being deported because of technicalities. So Sweden is basically doing the opposite of Canada: we are hostile to people who can contribute to Swedish society, but have been very welcoming to people who will never realistically contribute a dime to the Swedish welfare state.
3) There's shortage on housing in the big cities due to regulation and rent-control. There is absolutely no incentives to build new apartments because the return of investment is non-existing, and all the zoning regulations and similar makes it a multi-year project just to get permission to even start building. What happens is the only new apartment buildings being built are apartments that are so expensive only people the people who do not have a problem getting an apartment in the first place (due to being well off) can buy them. For the Swedish 99%, you either need to get lucky, take significant loans (which people have done due to almost 0% interest, which will be a catastrophe when the interests rates increase, which must happen within the next 5 years) or stand in the state apartment queue for 20-30 years. The only way to solve this realistically would be for the state to invest heavily in apartments, basically build away the shortage, and then remove the rent control. Finland did this. But it was highly unpopular.
If you are in the top tier of your profession and you can basically get a job in whatever country you please, I'd hang on moving to Sweden right now.
Do you know how many truck drivers we're going to need in 5-10 years for example? We're talking mid-five digit numbers. That's not unskilled labor as such but it's not a massive insurmountable obstacle either to educate these people to become truck drivers for example.
As im working in automotive industry i can say to you: "less each year".. Companies thinking ahead will try to decrease employment of newer drivers and probably sack off some percent of current ones.
If you think about moving to Canada - think twice - it has its own issues. Its better to know them before moving there.
The recession is comming taking big leaps. Dotcoms colapse - i just hope it wont be the trigger - still need few years to buy a house and get myself into opsition where i dont have to worry.
I feel like it's a great compromise to have a fair and equal society where almost everyone gets paid in a similar range. I'm a software engineer who earns almost half of what I did in the US.
On one hand, I feel happy living in a fair, and well educated, modern society. On the other hand, I feel like I'm missing opportunities and "settling" for comfort. I came to judge the attitude of Danish people for "just enough" thinking about jobs. In the sense that people are against being ambitious, competitive and pushing themselves. They're happy with what they do and enjoy life. It's a very different approach to life, that I'm intrigued about.
What do you think so far?
There is a tonne of support for startups, and I've had no issues raising money. After all the "free money" and taking into account the reduced cost of SWEs, the math works out to be the same as fund raising in the US.
I've been told, and now that I'm hiring have started to observe, that there is a category of new graduate who may be less ambitious than in other countries.
You get emails which to me read "I'm a newly graduated X, I'm now ready to join your company to continue my education". I would say there are fewer people who have applied themselves through hobbies and side projects during their education.
I get that not everyone thinks that you should need to have side projects, but honestly I learned to code writing bots for MMORPGs, not university.
The good news is that you have access to the whole European market, and because the jobs are more spread out good people in other countries are paying attention to whats available elsewhere.
I live in Odense. Feel free to reach out, firstname.lastname@example.org.
We live in times where "rat race" is so prevalent we forget to take a step back and think about "what is really important".
It's realistic that financially I'll be where I need to be within the next couple of years. Sweden, along with Norway, has been on my list of potential destinations, so it's helpful to hear this perspective from somebody born and raised there. It's not going to stop me from continuing to consider, but rather make me dig a little deeper.
2) Apart from the fact that there's been a significant influx of refugees that entire point should be seen as pure opinion with little relationship to facts. It seems based on anecdotal stuff about a few individuals being deported on technicalities, and imo, it seeps with a disdain for non-economically viable refugees. That the big unions & the social democrats are generally hostile to skilled immigrants because of competition is also nonsense.
3) That it's a multi-year project just to receive permissions is hyperbole. However, I do agree with the solution here, apart from the need to abolish rent-control. That the state should plan & build rental apartments would also be a revert to how it worked before rather than a reform, and I agree with that. To abolish rent-control is a right-wing dream because it guarantees good housing in popular locations to wealthy people, to the detriment of working class people that have to move out due to the higher rents.
A lot of the complaining you hear from Swedish people is because they haven't really experienced anything different. They have no idea how comfortable life is here (still). As a parent, I can barely fathom raising a child in the US for instance. Even the best companies will give you 4 months paid time off, if you're one of the lucky few working for FAANG. What the hell do you even do with a 4 month old after that time's up? They can't fucking even crawl yet. Not to mention the healthcare situation. The relief to just be able to walk into any hospital and just give your person number, and everything is just taken care of. No $20k bill because the hospital is out of your coverage or whatever.
The main thing worrying me today is like you say, the immigration and crime situation. The current crime wave is not because of recent immigration but because of earlier waves. I don't want to find out what happens when 200k refugees and (mostly) their disillusioned sons turn to crime in about 18 years. Hopefully we can figure this out before then.
Also, to add, during the Syrian refugee wave of 2015/2016, the second largest group to come here after Syrians were repatriating Swedes. We didn't get 200K war refugees during the wave on top of our regular immigration. It was 200K including repatriating Swedes and the normal immigration we see year over year.
I certainly hope you're right though. But anecdotally, I know of enough people getting robbed with guns and knives that I don't feels as safe as I did 10 years ago.
I pulled the 200k out of thin air. I'm talking more about the sum over the past few years rather than a specific peak.
FAANG employees are essentially the top rung of benefits in the US.
Interesting observation. If people are promoted to their "level of incompetence", perhaps not promoting people is indeed a solution...
This surprises me since the Glassdoor salaries for a software engineer for Tencent in Shanghai is about 200k yuan which is about $30k. AFAIK in Stockholm you could easily net at least twice that.
Glassdoor can be relevant for American salaries thanks to the sheer quantity of figures being posted, but I've found salary fields to be sparsely populated for Germany (where I live now), and a few European and Asian countries I've checked out. It's kinda dangerous in the sense you could look up figures on Glassdoor and 9 times out of 10, you'll end up lowballing yourself if you try to negotiate salary IRL based on what you saw there.
If I ever want to move back to China I can probably negotiate 2x-4x what I'm making now.
Regarding depression, it would be great If you could state a source for the claim that long term residency in Sweden creates depression.
It’s definitely a clean and well organized country with lots of nature. And it seems pretty great for tech.
But would never move there.
The article talks about living, working, procreating and eventually dying in Sweden, so lets talk about that.
Many things are expensive in Sweden. When we think about living, we must consider things that are not expensive. Swedish type system arguably very strongly directs and limits the choices from the economic perspective.
- Beer is always expensive but dental care is always cheap. You can't choose between chugging more beer and having hole in your choppers. You can choose to having the hole if you insist, but the beer is still expensive.
- You can't choose between more beer and good education and healthcare for your children. The Government has made that choice for you.
- Similarly you are forced to live with affordable broadband due to government regulation enforced on companies to protect the consumer.
The question of living is Sweden should be decided by thinking how much your own goals align with the government enforced baseline. Temporarily embarrassed millionaires don't want to live in Sweden.
If I never had to worry about being bankrupted by medical bills or whether we could afford childcare, vacation time, etc it might make me more than willing to part with more money for taxes.
One of the primary reasons we want to make a high corporate salary is the security it provides and the comfortable life it facilitates. However, if you lose that job or never get one to begin with you miss out on all these essential benefits that should be available to everyone. Healthcare, childcare, leave, education should be available to all.
Tax is calculated for you, all you need to do is sign (with your mobile ID).
If you get sick you get payed after the first day. Hospital visit is about $8 per night. Doctor $20 per visit.
It all depends on what is worth for you.
I do enjoy reading about Sweden though, especially the child-facilities and social-care. Things are similar here in Finland, but there are differences. Both are worlds apart from what I grew up with in the UK though.
The only other big change is a political system built on coalitions. Apart from that, it’s mostly the same.
That is so obvious. How else would one do it?
For evening-care you're less likely to find such cheap care, even if you do the traditional thing and pay teenagers, but even so you wouldn't expect to pay more than 40/50 euros for a night out with your wife/husband.
Social stuff is more than the day-care though, just walking around the local area there are numerous small parks, and play-areas for children, often stocked with toys. Free transport on buses, metros, and trams for a parent with a child, etc, etc. None of it is revolutionary, but it all adds up to making parenthood feel pretty good here.
(Some things are, sadly, not perfect. For example when I take our child to the doctors for scheduled checkups the first question is usually "Where is his mother?", but minor niggles aside I think having a child here is much much nicer than it would have been in Scotland.)
I don't think I have ever heard that claim before. I am American, had very good insurance through my employers when I was living in the US, and routinely experienced mediocre care. But I didn't have anything to compare it to at the time. After I moved overseas and experienced excellent healthcare I know better.
"Oh, you need a specialist. You will get a letter for an appointment in about 4 months." 4 months later when you go see the specialist, he decides he needs an MRI to diagnose. Wait another 3 months for the scan.
Unless you are literally dying right now, this is the reality of many health care systems. This scenario is about 3x more common in national health plan systems than in insurance based ones.
In other words, if you are in an affluent area with a well-funded NHS trust, you will receive prompt and plentiful care whenever you need it and for whatever reason you need it. Less affluent areas must prioritise to meet their budget constraints, so they will indeed make you wait for a long time, unless there is an emergency.
So, reports in the (non-UK) media that claim that it may take "4 months" to be seen by GP or a specialist doctor unless you're dying, etc, are a) exaggerated and b) don't take into account the regional differences in service, which can be very pronounced.
I've been reading that a lot, but I can't find any decisive evidence supporting it - what leads you to think that?
I did find this though that says 2x:
Also, check out taxes. I was offered a contract position in Sweden recently, and the total tax burden was around 55%. Thanks, but no thanks.
Assuming of course that the government is fiscally prudent for the many years until your kids start higher education and you are elderly and need a lot of medical care. Given how popular it is around the world to run huge deficits that end up requiring major cuts to services I wouldn't bet my future on it.
It's a bit off topic, but all I can see online about Sweden always sounds so perfect. But in reality it's not. There's a lot of us Swedes that are long from fine paying these taxes and then see our friends/relatives waiting for half a year waiting for treatment for cancer.
And if you'd like private healthcare, Sweden taxes you extra for that.
New car? Triple tax first 3 years.
It also means that you’re taxed higher. While most people pay 31% in commune tax, the top earners pay an extra 25% adding to the resentment.
I think most people agree that the quality of health care is an issue, but pretty divided on how to go about things. About 50-50 split.
Fun fact, since the election in September the Riksdag still hasn’t been able to elect a prime minister due to being to divided on such issues. The only thing they do agree is to not to collaborate with SD, giving both sides roughly 40% support for their favorite candidate.
Wikipedia had a nice map of the situation. We hn 10%ers tend to live in the more densely populated blue areas, again giving a pretty distorted view of things.
Really? I thought that good healthcare was one of the major positives of the high taxes paid in Sweden. That was alluded to in the article and I have seen positive comments in the past about it. I guess that is due to the 10%ers being the ones commenting(?). But then I don't understand how there is uneven distribution of quality healthcare.
One of the issues being debated is the uneven quality between geographic regions. Not a new issue though, a more contemporary issue the lack of care givers and long waits that seems to be a problem in general.
If I were to guess a combination of the large age group just retiring and an attempt to allow more private health care options from a few years back started a vicious circle of relatively low wages and increasingly stressful working conditions driving competent people to seek out private employers instead.
Apparently it’s not uncommon for nurses to leave an employment, only to come back as contractors for the same job with twice the salary.
If that is the case I’m sure it’s mostly a temporary mess that needs to stabilize into some new configuration.
But the private options seems to be doing a good job, in general the people around me seems to be happy with their service at least. But to access those services you need the typical insurance through your employer, defeating the entire point of a public health care system to begin with.
So any resentment among the 10% probably stems from fear of not having a private option for things like cancer treatments if the current mess in the public system continues.
That said, the public system does an excellent job of all standard physical care I’ve needed so far. Have had some unlucky encounters with incompetent people, but can’t blame the system for that.
The psychiatric care looks like a complete failure though. If you have any anxiety or depression to deal with you’re on your own. The treatment plan is basically for a GP to administer prescription medicine and sick leave. If you do manage to be remitted to a specialist their main function is to evaluate to which degree you’re faking it. (In Sweden your either working or a lazy freeloader, “arbetslinjen” is very strong)
- Mona Sahlin, former leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party.
Same with housing. Rich fools conquering large towns and driving everyone else out. Does that benefit society?
Of course when you support a system that everyone is his own best friend, you'll be happier when all the money you earn goes to you.
Does it work better in America with the lazy people, are they working better just because they make less money? Most people in Sweden can actually live on one job even if it is as a cleaner.
The people that you call lazy is a very small percentage of the population. And just about all of them has some physical or psycical problem preventing them from getting a job. It is not a choice they have to either go work or starve. Noone chooses to starve just because it's fun. This mentality is very upsetting for us that has seen reality and does not live in a glass house.
As for startups, it would be better to see the success ratio (how many people tried to create a startup vs how many succeed) and not just the number of survivors.
Who made this claim? Certainly not me. I claimed that, for an ordinary software engineer (i.e. not a startup founder), life will be better/easier in many other European countries.
Any examples of societies that are unequal enough for you?
 Not sure about a proper antonym here.
But that's true almost everywhere. In the U.S. it's true everywhere outside of the Bay Area, and perhaps Seattle.
I love Boston, for example, but the city is chock full of bankers, lawyers, management consultants, and doctors whose incomes often dwarf those of engineers. And they're much higher on the social ladder. You're priced out of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city, and if you're single, dating is tougher.
Obviously, it's not the end of the world. 99% of people don't make as much as investment bankers or white-shoe lawyers, and life goes on. But I think it explains in part why engineers are drawn to the Bay Area. The sky-high cost-of-living may make it a break-even proposition, but the bit of prestige engineers get there is a selling point.
I dont make that much less than an american engineer with my experience, but 40% is washed away in taxes. Also, I generally work 0 overtime 37,5H weeks.
You have not been in Sweden.
I'm a swede and I used to live in the US, specifically the bay area, SF. I moved back to sweden 5 years ago and while I make less than half of what I did (~150k/year) while working and living in the US, my living standard here in sweden is so much better in every possible way.
I make roughly the equivalent of $70k/year before taxes here in Sweden (it's above average) but I pay less half of what I used to pay for a 2 room apartment in the bay area but instead I get a 300 m2 architectural designed lake house less than 20 minutes from my office. Buying a house of this size and good location in the bay area would cost millions of dollars. I paid less than $400k.
I work remote 3 days a week, I get 8 weeks of paid vacation a year (currently on vacation and I haven't been at work since 14th of december), universal healthcare plus free private healthcare (well "free" because I do pay $15 in fees once every visit) as one of my employee benefits, free lunches plus so called Rikskortet (can be used to buy meals at restaurants or groceries that for me covers the whole month), wellness benefits (basically means I get a free gym membership at whatever gym or physical activity I want), a company car ('17 Audi A7) where I only have to pay for gas which I rarely need to do because I live close to work and I work remote more than half the time.
So basically I pay roughly the equivalent of $1500 a month in total (mortage, utility bills, insurance, food etc) for my current stress free life these days compared to when I used to live and work in the US where I paid $4000 a month just in rent alone for a small apartment.
I'd say that I have a quite comfortable life at this point.
His gym membership is probably not taxed as the government want to promote good health, but he has to pay tax for the car, free lunches etc.
Free lunches as in the company pays for the food but the lunch breaks are not paid.