• Sweden edition
 

More Swedes dependent on welfare payments

Published: 07 Sep 2012 08:07 GMT+02:00
Updated: 07 Sep 2012 08:07 GMT+02:00

“This is a problem for the whole of Europe and the rest of the western world. An increasing number of people study at university for years and then graduate and realize that there are no jobs within the field they have specialized,” said analyst Bo Wictorin to Sveriges Radio (SR).

The number of adults above the age of 18 who are receiving long-term social benefits for ten months or longer is increasing across the country, according to the agency’s report. In 2006, when the number was at its lowest, 84,000 people were dependent on the scheme, whereas last year that number had swelled to 110,000.

In Eskilstuna, some 60 percent of those on welfare are both able-bodied and educated, according to Wictorin.

Sarita Hotti, chairperson for the Social Democrat labour and family committee in Eskilstuna, some 88 kilometres south of Stockholm, told SR that the situation is hardest for young Swedes and immigrants:

“Mainly its jobseekers below the age of 35, and this can be seen across the globe that young people can’t get into the labour market. The other group is those born outside of Sweden, that have no network or contacts,” said Hotti to SR.

According to the report, some 4.4 percent of Swedes lived in households dependent on state-funded social welfare bemefits ast year.

The Local/rm (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

09:01 September 7, 2012 by RobinHood
Sweden's extremely generous welfare, public health and public housing systems were not designed for the ever increasing numbers of unemployed, and frankly unemployable, people now moving here. Sweden's public services are over-burdened, and under-resourced, and now need much more tax payers' money than they already receive to continue to provide the standards Swedes have become used to.

Swedes must face the undeniable fact that if they decide to accommodate hundreds of thousands of people who are unable to feed and house themselves, then that will inevitably increase the unemployment and homeless statistics.

Either the standard of care available for everyone must be reduced, or the level of taxation paid by those able to make a contribution must be increased. Probably both will be necessary. There are other alternatives, but they may not be debated.
09:29 September 7, 2012 by johan rebel
More "Swedes" or more "people in Sweden"? The latter, I strongly suspect.
09:43 September 7, 2012 by bolababu
@Johan; more Swedes definitely because there are more Swedes living in Sweden than non-Swedes so of course as we all know that ethnic Swedes are very laid back people who would rather have fun than work, i believe from personal experience that the percentage of non-swedes on social benefits is far less than the percentage of ethnic swedes on social benefits. i for one am an immigrant who has lived in sweden for almost 5 years and i have worked every single working-hour of those 5 years whereas on the street where i live, there is perhaps 1 or 2 out of 10 Swedes working or intending to work.
09:46 September 7, 2012 by isenhand
There's a lot of research done into equality and societies. Those with higher levels of equality tend to do better. We have seen over the last few years a government that has pushed through policies that result in greater inequality (more millionaires but also an increase in poverty). Much the same has happened in other countries that have implemented similar policies. The current government policies might look good in the short turn but they have an overall long term negative impact on society. So, we should expect more people on welfare payments. That will include "more Swedes" but as immigrants tend to end up in the lower levels of society we should also expect to find a disproportionate amount immigrants requiring welfare.

Have a look here : http://www.ted.com/talks/richard_wilkinson.html

or read this book :

The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better.
10:08 September 7, 2012 by StockholmSam
It's called a global economic downturn and Sweden is not the only nation seeing these trends. These are natural components of economic fluctuations and are entirely expected. This is exactly why we invest in such social programs and why we are surviving the situation better than most, for the time being. It is officially a rainy day. When the clouds break, our investments in these policies will put us in a good position to take advantage of the improving climate.
10:23 September 7, 2012 by krattan
Swedes as well as immigrants need to adapt to the effects of globalization. If you can't find a job in the vicinity the easy way out is to move. Eskilstuna is a good example with it's proximity to Stockholm (by train) where you don't even have to move out of there to find work opportunities. But you need to be prepared to commute.

Another stronghold for the Swedish work force is Norway. It's easy to move to Norway as a Swede and the economic outlook is promising.
12:01 September 7, 2012 by Great Scott
@RobinHood

For once some sanity in your comments, however I am not sure that I would focus so much on immigration after all most of the people on "The Local" are immigrants. It is the Swedish who are suffering unemployment the most with companies cutting jobs and closing. We keep hearing the government is planning to resolve the problem but it's just idle talk or failed concepts such as fas 3.

The idea of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer says something, taxes need to be raised. Until the beginning of the 90's Sweden had high taxes, very low unemployment and a healthy economy. Once taxes were lowered cuts were made in the public sector to pay for them creating mass unemployment and from there a snowball effect.

People are being lied to by the government who are saying the economy is in good shape, if it's so good why are people not spending so much money, why are sales dropping leading to further job losses. An economy revolves around a community that has money to spend.

Don't blame the Euro or the Far East, look at the people that play with our money and the tax cheats that are sitting on the USA and Japans combined total economic turn over for one year.

@krattan

It is not easy to move to another area to find work, many people have partners with jobs and children at school, it is possible but only for the few with no ties.
12:36 September 7, 2012 by krattan
@Scott

We are of course discussing a wide range of issues here if we are to address all people on social welfare. I was mostly referring to these people stated in the article below age of 35.

As people managed to move across the world 150 years ago never to see their relatives again, I don't really see the problem with todays travel opportunities. People need to adapt to the current situation, whether they like it or not. This goes to young people, immigrants and people living in any community on the decline, as is the truth for so many small towns. You need to be where there is opportunity.
12:46 September 7, 2012 by Scepticion
This statement is also important " then graduate and realize that there are no jobs within the field they have specialized".

This is a problem of poor education policy. I.e. universities and colleges are paid by the number of students they have. So they compete with their programs for the students, and succumb to offering any program that will attract students, irrespective whether there is a job market or not. Further, often students don't take difficult science and engineering courses anymore, which get cut down, but instead go for easy, dumbed down curricula that are not competitive in the modern world. Government should have a steering role in a) not providing funding for "stupid" courses; perhaps students can take them if they pay the full fees themselves. But special scholarships could be given to people taking hard core science.

I mean, how many gender specialists (and other types of eduction) do we need? (sarcasm on) Perhaps the left would solve it by making a law that every company needs to hire a gender specialist (sarcasm off).

On the other hand, we have computer companies as just posted recently on the local, who can't find enough skilled people. I bet there could have been enough Swedish people to fill the job, if they only had actually studied math and computer science, even if it had been hard. I mean were else do students run of classrooms during courses because they have an appointment with a friend.
13:22 September 7, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
@ Scott

Sweden is one of the most (if not the most) taxed nation in the world, or at least the developped world, if not all worlds.

In the mid 1990's, both Canada and the USA posted annual surpluses for several consecutive years, with more tax revenue than expenditures, and tax rates were a lot lower there then, that what Sweden has in place here today. So I disagree that a simple solution is taxation. Among other things, it would shrink the already small amount of disposable income to feed economic activity here.

The analyst in the article appears to suggest that many of the extra 30,000 people (2011 vs 2006) who cannot find work are basically a bunch of philosophy majors to whom it did not occur that a degree in philosophy does not lead to a job. If there is any truth to that remark, then universities should be challenged to come up with schemes that encourage more students to learn marketable skills, particularly in areas where Sweden imagines these will be needed within Sweden.

If the 'oops I chose the wrong subject at University' reason does not explain most of the problem, and if it is in fact based on unsustainabl levels of immigration, or the skillsets that the immingrants have (or lack), then I (once again) urge the government to publish target and actual immigation numbers for the various skill levels that economic projections suggest are reasonable.
13:34 September 7, 2012 by gmaddalo
@ Scott:

i totally agree with you on the tax part. I don't believe in the fable of the current government.

@ Reason and Realism:

I totally agree with! The government needs to push on technological subjects. It's the technology that guarantees the advancement and development and leadership of the country.

In order to boost the brain drain of the brightest brains in Europe, I would suggest what the Dutch government was doing till recently (ahime' they cut as well now with the crisis): Offer a 30% tax discount to foreign scientists. This will attract them to Sweden and they will bring knowledge=ideas=boost in the economy. These people are very unlikely to be unemployed as they are highly educated so they won't cost so much in terms of social costs.

Wake up Sweden! Take the brightest minds from abroad, east Europe above all. Skype was an Estonian invention (not Swedish as the Swedes tend to claim!), Estonia is one of the most advanced country in terms of IT. Berlusconi kicked Italian scientists out (they were too clever), take them, Italians by tradition are the brightest minds in the USA.

Regards from an Italian who lived in Sweden (will come back probably) and is living in the Netherlands.
13:53 September 7, 2012 by azimuth
I totally agree about people making wrong choices when they choose a major to study. I have heard from my professor at KTH that the amount of students applying for engineering majors is decreasing every year. Instead, the young Swedes choose the arts and the humanities.

Another thing, Arbetsformedlingen has a list of professions with lack of labor on their website. And IT professions and doctors are at the top of the list. Why don't they take a look there before applying to university?
16:49 September 7, 2012 by RobinHood
@Great Scott

Were Swedes not the second highest taxed people in the world, significantly raising their taxes might be solution. But the simple fact is that working Swedes already pay massive levels of taxation and asking them to pay significantly more than they already do is impossible in a democracy. As we have seen, the electorate keeps voting for the party that taxes them least. Wierd that!

The two remaining options are to reduce the level of services, or reduce the number of people depending on those services. The number of claimants is ever increasing, the money avaiable to pay for them remains constant, so their quality must inevitably decline. That is exactly what has happened.
17:17 September 7, 2012 by autonomy
There is a nasty whiff of entitlement about the attitude of graduates in this country, which the education system unfortunately promotes. If there is no job available in the field in which you've studied, or if you've studied something that is non-vocational, then what's wrong with doing something else instead of claiming benefits? Going to university is a privilege that used to be reserved for those with a certain level of intellect and academic prowess, but nowadays the basic idea is that university should be for all. Unfortunately, a huge proportion of jobs that need doing don't require this kind of academic education. Personally, I value the person who fixes my broken car just as highly as I value the person who fixes my broken leg - society needs both - but the former doesn't need to be university educated.

I graduated (several years ago) with an excellent degree from a top UK university, but since there was a recession at the time I found it hard to get a career job. Instead I worked three jobs part-time - as a builder's assistant, serving behind the bar in a pub, and as a telesalesperson making sales appointments for double glazing. I also at one point worked evenings and weekends in MacDonalds. Nope, none of these jobs are on my CV, but they all helped me to develop a good work ethic. And to all those who bitch regularly on here about immigrants - I meet plenty of qualified professionals who have come to Sweden from elsewhere and are working as taxi drivers, etc. to provide for themselves and their families. I have yet to meet a native Swedish graduate driving a taxi...
17:19 September 7, 2012 by Great Scott
@RobinHood

And I thought you were making progress. Sweden has a fairly small population but a vast infrastructure and a humane welfare state to maintain. Maintaining such creates employment and drives the economy, this is how Sweden was run before all these crazy tax cuts (that were made to suit the few) were made. Reducing services only creates more unemployment and creates a bigger problem. As far as reducing the number of people depending on services are you suggesting that we kick out old people from care homes, take away handicap care, take away mental care and so on. The next election will see the end of this incompetent short sighted government as the people of Sweden have heard the promises and seen the action. It's like the old saying, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all the time.

And as I keep telling you change your user name, the REAL Robin Hood was a man of the people, taking from the rich and giving to the poor. You are fraud.
17:44 September 7, 2012 by Strictly
@RobinHood, I totally agree with your comments.
19:14 September 7, 2012 by frenchviking
This is very strange to me... Truth is, it is hard to recruit qualified and competent people!

Sweden has a huge lack of engineers... Why not encourage more to study engineering?

Maybe also some people are too confortable living on benefits... Most of us here are living away from home and working. If you cannot find a job in your home town, then look elsewhere! We are lucky, for EU citizens, to be able to live and work anywhere in the EU!

And finally there is a problem with the profile of immigrants comming to Sweden. Too many unemployable people are let in to sweden, and it is unsustainable long term. The US and Canada have targeted immigration based on required skills, we should have that in europe too. Of course it is important to welcome people who need help, and we should continue to do so, but taking more than we can manage will not help anyone... The whole system will collapse and we won't be able to help at all...
21:21 September 7, 2012 by haladeen
Hmm... maybe this video shed some light on the problem:

you tube.com/ watch?v=Lsq9PYAdjnA
14:33 September 8, 2012 by cogito
"There is a nasty whiff of entitlement about the attitude of graduates--- which the education system unfortunately promotes" (#14)

@ autonomy, Occupy Wall Street was studded with students outraged because they could not find jobs they thought worthy of their education in, e.g., documentary filmmaking. But it would not have occurred to them to take a job beneath what they imagined was their due.
16:57 September 8, 2012 by jostein
"swedes"
17:02 September 8, 2012 by autonomy
@cogito: fair point. I don't for one minute think entitlement to be unique to Sweden. Sadly it seems to be more rife here now than when I arrived here some ten years ago.
17:38 September 8, 2012 by calebian22
Great Scott,

You are completely ignoring the reality of refugees (calling them immigrants is misleading) being unemployable (which was mentioned in the article) Increasing taxes is a lazy bandaid proposed by lazy politicians who won't make the tough decisions. Tax the worker more in order to pay for the social benefits of newcomers to Sweden who are disinterested in working? What a good little Social Democrat you are. More taxes will solve everything! You are right though the next election cycle will bring change. SD will reach double digit percentages and then they will not be so easy to ignore. I look forward to the change they will bring to the political table and the hand wringing their "bigoted" presence will invoke in people like you.
20:34 September 8, 2012 by willyinstockholm
The burden is on the low salary tax payers.... Rich people get richer and poor get poorer always.....
21:44 September 8, 2012 by DAVID T
Give benefits only to those that have paid tax and then wait for the stampede out of the country
11:01 September 9, 2012 by Clarabow
I have been away for a year and the first thing I noticed was food - the basics are costing much more. It is a minor point but indicates a deeper problem with the economy and if people are on low fixed incomes they will be badly affected as most of their money will go on necessities. Youth unemployment is a huge problem in the EU; so hardly surprising it is affecting Sweden - just as it will effect any country within the Union and without. This terrible problem can't be blamed on immigration however much some might wish. If anyone thinks that young Greeks, Italians, Spanish, Irish, French, Swedes, UK citizens etc. are not moving around Europe looking for work - well of course they are. Immigration is not the problem in this case. It is a financial mess that started with cheap loans, housing, cheap credit, that has brought about the near financial collapse of institutions from America to Europe and back again. We are in a world wide depression the like of which the world has not seen since the 1930s; some will survive better than others; some countries who have managed their financial affairs with due diligence will fair better, but ordinary people, on modest incomes, the poor, will suffer most. And a generation of young people won't find a decent job. This is not the time to blame those people but to ask Governments to ensure this mess never happens again. By blaming those whose fault it isn't - gives the greedy, corrupt, Financial sector a get out of jail card as they keep their heads down and their bonuses flowing in.
11:18 September 9, 2012 by born2die
Why don't Sweden get rid off long term welfare benefit? Lower tax(s) for taxpayer? so people can enjoy more on the money they earned. I know there are Swedes and immigrants taking advantage of the welfare system for they everyday life and do illegal stuff. Politicians must dedicate their works effectively and sufficently not just for the ticket to RISKDAG.
11:40 September 9, 2012 by Navras
Sweden needs only people for doing these kind of jobs: taxi driving, plumbering/cooking/chefs, cleaning, cutitng grass.

Sweden has no transparency in educational policy. Majority of students who cant get job in their home country come to Sweden to study!

I find very few immigrants going into higher education. For e.g. I would find more Somalian students @univeristy than Swedish Somalian. The immigrant from poor country e.g afganistan, somalia come and do all kind of jobs but their children turn complacent of swedish socialist system. some of them don't want to do small jobs because of status problems. They don't even work hard to study and improve their skills.

My suggestion

1. Attract only good students

2. Ensure they don't leave by offering them lucrative jobs, Even offer tax reliefs to potential entrepreneurs.

3. Don't give many benefits to asylum seekers at the start of their stay. Gradually increment their living standard by some kind of motivation. Add benefits to Immigrant family with some points rule depending on :Children education Performance, University enrollment.
12:48 September 9, 2012 by rise
Sweden has to get more of its sick and wounded people out working so the country can afford importing even more, preferably, muslims. :P
12:57 September 9, 2012 by Great Scott
@ Clarabow

Well written, people like calebian22 and born2die need to read your comments and learn something.

@ calebian22

LOL, you accuse me of completely ignoring one issue while you completely ignore the other 99% of issues.

Your comments sound like they come from a 1934 German newspaper. Blaming a small majority for government failures. Let me remind you this article is about welfare payments in general not just money paid to immigrants. The vast majority of benefits now being paid out are to the unemployed and those who can't make ends meet. The only reason these benefits are being paid is because of the high rate of unemployment in Sweden mainly caused by the current financial situation and tax cuts.

Your small minded short term views of lowered taxes will only put more pressure on the benefit system as unemployment goes up.

Tax cuts are always paid for by cuts in public spending i.e. welfare services etc. Thousands have lost their jobs due to this, many who are over 50 who will have a very slim chance of finding work again.

Let remind you that everyone has the right to work, the right to earn a fair wage and the right to live a minimum standard. If it means raising taxes and more so for the better off, then let it happen. Putting money in people's pockets is what drives the economy and creates further jobs, when this happens then maybe the situation can be reviewed.

Current government policy is only turning Sweden's economy into stagnation.

Off course if you prefer to see Thatcher's cardboard city, poverty and crime on the streets please ignore what I have written.

P.S. May I ask are you a SD.
17:47 September 9, 2012 by cogito
Welfare is basically vote-buying. In less developed but less hypocritical nations, politicians hand out sacks of cash in exchange for votes.

In Sweden they buy votes with handouts in the form of parental leave and child allocations; in the USA, they buy votes with, e.g. food stamps.
18:48 September 9, 2012 by born2die
@ Great Scott

Read yours comments!

Maybe you're once of those people living on the government welfare payment, and trying to defended lower taxes or short term welfare benefit.

I am a working class, and I don't have any problem with paying taxes and I will pay as long as I am working. But you Scott you don't working and don't have a picture of it. If you earned 100:- would you want other people takes away your 40:- you just earned?

Italy, Spain, Greece what happening to all those countries? why their economy dragging, and wobbling?
19:48 September 9, 2012 by Great Scott
@ born2die

You couldn't be more wrong, I am in engineering and have a very good salary. But one thing I can't stand is GREED. I am sick and tired of government spending cuts (that only benefits the well-off) that will in the long run damage us all. I am sick and tired of inicent unemployed people being abused via the fas 3 atrocity (if you know what that is). I am sick and tired of the well-off being able to tax dodge and hide billions. Sweden needs a fully functional welfare system and jobs that is good for all.
01:01 September 10, 2012 by hughknows
What is terrible is the way this article is presented in regards to the relationship of the facts to one another - Is the selective use of facts due to Wictorin or The Local though? I don't know because I didn't hear the broadcast. But if the number of unemployed has risen from 84,000 to 110,000 in 6 years in the whole of Sweden then why only give the number of 'able-bodied, educated' beneficiaries in Eskilstuna? It would be helpful to also know the figure for the whole of Sweden. Then it would be clear if Wictorin has a true statistical point to make. It seems it is being implied that the Eskilstuna figures of educated unemployed are indicative of Sweden as a whole. I suspect however, that they may have been chosen because they are so high, and thus can be used rather manipulatively to further Wictorin's premise. I have no way to be sure however, as the article doesn't give the full relevant information. The thing is I could probably find out by several minutes of internet research, but I really can't be bothered - I don't care enough about the issue itself. It just would have been nice to have ALL the relevant facts included in the article. It's sad that this is something that The Local, and the Swedish media in general don't seem to be at all committed to ensuring.
01:31 September 10, 2012 by Svensksmith
Long term welfare just perpetuates the problem. Don't give a man a fish, teach him to fish.
08:46 September 10, 2012 by Clarabow
I am surprised by some of the comments although they echo comments from other countries who seem to have no memory or history to guide them. Not so long ago at Lunde thousands marched in support of work and jobs. These people would have been hungry and their families suffering from hardship. The Governments answer - shoot them. The long shadow of the 1930s depression is still to be felt today as the cuts European countries have to make have yet to bite hard and when they do you might not argue for tax cuts. You might be one of those who will have to depend on welfare. And isn't the Arab Spring, with us today, about basic rights - to work - to earn enough to live on - the children educated - to be cared for if sick - but these social rights hard won by our forefathers are in danger of being eroded throughout Europe for those countries lucky enough to have them. And what is the answer of the very rich to these problems - well the richest woman in Australia thinks workers should be happy to earn an African's non living wage. Top Shop's Mr Green doesn't pay UK taxes (although his workers do) he puts it in his wife's name in non-dom Monaco where billions sit tax free. And RBS's ex Mr Goodwin who brought about its near collapse sits happily with his huge gold plated pension whilst yours and mine goes down the drain. It is these people we should be directing our angry comments against. And for those of you who can get BBC iplayer - have a look at "the revolution will be televised". Funny and I suspect could be applied to lots of countries Bankers, the Politicians, the very rich. Poor people have no power to change anything. Save your energy and direct it at those who can bring change and hope that it won't lead to another Hitler, who came to power on the back of that 1930s depression and promises that led to world war.
11:15 September 10, 2012 by Swedish Cat
Please vote Social Democrats in the next election and bring more random unqualified people in more than 100 000 a year isn't it? (source immigrationsverket ) Increase the taxes on workers and companies to make it unattractive to invest and work in Sweden. Please call Reinfeldt an idiot and racist for saying that if we continue down this road workers vs. unemployed we will have to increase our retirement age. Please put the social demcrats in to raise that age to 85 instead but save some on the side as there will prob not be a retirement in the end. Simple maths.
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