One in five Swedes ‘is a millionaire’

Sweden is awash with millionaires, thanks to rising house prices and solid stock market performance. That's the conclusion of a survey presented on Wednesday by Statistics Sweden, which revealed that one in five Swedes over the age of 20 is a 'kronor millionaire' when total assests and debts are considered.

According to the figures, which were based on 2005’s tax returns, the average net wealth in Sweden that year was 450,000 kronor.

“It would be fair to say that this is the richest that Swedes have ever been,” Statistics Sweden researcher Peter Öberg.

“Most people think it’s surprising but they don’t realise the effect of rising real estate prices over the last few years.”

Öberg acknowledged that as house prices in Sweden have continued to surge, Swedes’ wealth is likely to be even higher than the figures show.

“But there is probably also a bigger difference between people who own property and people who don’t,” he said.

Fixed assets such as property account for 70 percent of Sweden’s household wealth while liquid assets – primarily savings, stocks and shares – make up the rest.

But the wealth gap between the young and the old is striking. With net wealth of well under 100,000 kronor and average annual income for women of 146,000 kronor and for men of 177,000 kronor, those in their twenties are Sweden’s paupers.

But as they leave education and hop onto the property ladder through their thirties, Swedes’ income climbs rapidly while net wealth is still held back by large debts.

Although income slumps on retirement, that’s when Swedes reach their peak wealth level. With maturing assets and low debts, the average net wealth of Swedes aged 65-74 is 817,000 kronor and one in three is a millionaire.

As wealth increases with age, so does inequality. On average, women’s wealth is 11 percent lower than men’s, but over the age of 65 that gap increases to 27 percent.