‘Swedes no longer sickest in EU’: report

The established picture of the Swedes being the population with the highest incidence of sick leave in the world has been shaken. Sweden is now close to the European average, according to a report by Sveriges Radio (SR).

'Swedes no longer sickest in EU': report

“In relation to how it has looked before, the levels of sick leave are low in Sweden today,” Jon Dutrieux, an investigator at the Swedish Social Insurance Inspectorate, told SR’s Ekot news programme.

When studies are conducted, Sweden is usually compared to eight other EU and EEA countries with similar sickness insurance systems.

Since 1987 Sweden has been out in front with a good margin above the EU average, although the levels have fluctuated wildly over the period as Sweden has both battled with a fiscal crisis and high unemployment, and enjoyed an economic boom.

According to preliminary calculations, Sweden’s sickness levels are now at around 2.4 percent of the working population after a steady decline since 2003.

Of Sweden’s neighbours, Norway and Finland both report higher levels of sick leave, with the former now taking the baton as the European country with the highest proportion of convalescents.

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