Swedes negative on economy – but optimistic for themselves

Swedes are pessimistic about the prospects for the economy - but few believe that they will be personally affected by an economic downturn. Young adults are most optimistic, according to the survey by Svenskt Kvalitetsindex (SKI).

In the survey, around 5,000 people were asked how they rated the prospects for Sweden’s economy, on a scale of 1-100. The average person gave a score of 31. A score of 35 would have meant no change in the economy, so the results indicate that Swedes fear a substantial deterioration.

People are significantly less optimistic than they were in a similar survey by SKI in the autumn, and the new figures are the lowest to have been measured in three years.

“Oil and food prices have risen, and people have absorbed this. Climate change also has an effect – people can see that this is going to have a big impact on the economy,” said Dr. Jan Eklöf, CEO of SKI.

People are significantly less pessimistic about their own prospects. When asked about how their finances would fare over the coming months, people gave an average score of 44.

“Many people don’t recognise that a downturn won’t only affect others. We’ve had a high growth period for quite a few years and people tend to forget. There’s a heck of a lot of psychology in all of this,” said Eklöf.

People under 30 were most optimistic.

“The differences between age groups are very clear. We’ve never seen this before,” Eklöf reasoned. He said this was down to “lifestyle addiction” and what he called a “keep on running” mentality.

“They have seen that there are possibilities to spend and they intend to keep doing that.”

The gap between how people view their own finances and the economy as a whole was smaller for older people. People under 30 are too young to really remember the economic crisis of the early nineties, while the downturn in 2000-2001 was relatively undramatic.

“We make our judgments about the future based on our experiences, and that is not the same thing as just reading about something.”

Another way to interpret people’s positive expectations about their own finances is to conclude that demand will remain high – and if people don’t stop consuming, the economy will be helped.

“This could mean that negative expectations will not be fulfilled,” said Eklöf.