95 percent of Swedes ‘cheat the system’

Nearly 95 percent of Swedes admit that they abuse the country's public services and benefits systems. Only 5 percent never bend the rules, according to a new study carried out by two senior economists.

95 percent of Swedes 'cheat the system'

Some 16 percent of those polled said they had seriously cheated the public sector, for example by claiming unemployment or sick benefits to which they were not entitled. 95 percent admitted maximizing use of the system by legal means, for instance by exploiting loopholes.

Some 1,257 randomly selected Swedes were interviewed in the poll.

Writing in Dagens Nyheter, the study’s authors Stefan Fölster, chief economist for the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, and Fredrik Bergström, CEO of the Swedish Retail Institute (HUI), say it is a myth that only politicians cheat the system.

Fölster and Bergström claim people commonly stretch the rules to gain maximum compensation from the state when planning parental leave or periods of unemployment.

The two economists claim that over-exploitation of the system is systematically hushed up by authorities.

“The Social Insurance Administration, [employment office] AMS and the unemployment insurance funds have for decades presented serious underestimates of the extent of cheating and over-exploitation,” they write.

“Government agencies and departments often hold back from highlighting the hidden reality, as it also reflects their failures,” say Fölster and Bergström, who want agencies to be forced to carry out more thorough evaluations. They propose commissioning an independent organization such as the Swedish National Audit Office to evaluate over-exploitation of the system.