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More single parents living in poverty: report

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 12 Apr 2010, 10:16

Published: 12 Apr 2010 10:16 GMT+02:00

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Every fourth single parent household in Sweden lives on less than 60 percent of the median income, which is 188,000 kronor ($26,300) according to Statistics Sweden (SCB) figures for 2008.

"This figures are depressing," said Ulla Andersson of the Left Party, which commissioned the report, to the Dagens Nyheter daily.

The Left Party asked RUT to look at changes in the group classified as poor since 2003, and at regional variations.

The report shows that residents of small industrial towns are worst hit with almost a third of single parents classified as poor, in comparison to less than 10 percent in 2003.

The figures refer to the measure of relative poverty applied across the EU, namely 60 percent of median household income. As average incomes increase so does the threshold for what is classified as poverty regardless of purchasing power or daily calorie intake, which is one of the measures applied by international organisations to measure absolute poverty.

Ulla Andersson argued that the report should be seen as a wake up call and proposes a legal right to child care even after normal working hours, the right to full time work, and an increase in maintenance support and housing allowances, which are currently paid to 260,000 and 120,000 child families respectively.

A broader SCB report published in March, detailing statistics up to 2008, shows that the economic standard for all of Sweden's households has increased dramatically since the turn of the century. This increase confirms however that the gains have not been equally shared by all groups.

The median value of Swedish household income increased by 32 percent from 1999 to 2008, with younger people enjoying greater gains than older, Swedish-born over foreign-born, and men more than women.

While children living with co-habiting parents enjoyed an increase in economic standard of 37 percent over the period, children living with single parents only saw their household incomes improve by 19 percent.

The Swedish government uses the term "low economic standard" to describe the relative poverty line, which currently applies to a disposable income figure of around 10,000 kronor per month.

Story continues below…

According to the government budget proposal from October 2009, citing SCB statistics, 12 percent of the Swedish population fell under this classification in 2007, up from 7.5 percent in 1991.

Despite the fact that income differences in Sweden have increased over the past 15 years, Sweden compares favourably internationally, with only Denmark having a more equal division of income among countries included in OECD statistics from the mid-2000s.

The World Bank classifies absolute poverty in global terms as existing on less than $1.25/day (in terms of purchasing power parity) - no one in Sweden currently falls under that category.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:33 April 12, 2010 by dobermann
Swedish poverty line is a way higher than median salary in most countries...That's interesting
13:42 April 12, 2010 by calebian22

Have you been shopping in Sweden lately? Everything is ridiculously overpriced. Anyone who thinks 99SEK for three pairs of socks is a sale, has obviously never left Sweden.
16:26 April 12, 2010 by 2394040
The World Bank has obviously lost touch with reality. Certainly no one affiliated with the World Bank has every had to live on $1.25 a day. If you could call that living, which only a bloody fool would.
17:45 April 12, 2010 by uunbeliever
@calebian22, yeah too bad we don't have the quality of Wal-Mart or Target here, boo hoo socks are expensive, how's your car insurance? Or medical? Or tuition? Or daycare? People who complain about sock prices obviously should leave Sweden.
18:50 April 12, 2010 by someoneonthenet

World Bank poverty line is appropriate as it only considers people who are having difficulty surviving as poor. If you start considering standard of life, then that takes away focus from people who can't afford food to people who don't have enough money to achieve a good standard of life.


Have you traveled to any other country, prices in Sweden might be higher than most other countries but prices in Sweden are not more than 10% higher for most products.
19:49 April 12, 2010 by dobermann

Please visit any of the baltic states (lithuania, latvia or estonia) and you will be very suprised how people can pay the same price for a fuel, almost the same price for food from their 2000-4000 SEK wage..
20:05 April 12, 2010 by calebian22

I make all my decisions regarding where I live in the world based on sock prices. Doesn't everyone?

Don't be ridiculous. It is called, an example. My car insurance was lower in the US. My medical insurance was top notch. My wife didn't have to work, so no daycare, because my service engineering job was high paying. I got a 4 year scholarship for fotbol to university so tuition was free. However, I married a Swede who got homesick, so here I am.

So far, after two years I am not impressed. Most consumer prices here are anywhere from 20-50 percent higher than in the US and the quality is no better than Walmart or Target. If you can convince my wife to do so, I would gladly leave Sweden.
20:36 April 12, 2010 by Swedesmith
calebian: You're one of the lucky ones. Have you been to the US lately? A lot of high paying jobs have gone by the wayside. Maybe you would be singing a different song if you had been downsized.
20:57 April 12, 2010 by wxman
Calebian, I'd recommend coming back in, oh I don't know, 2 1/2 years? Things will be much better then.
21:08 April 12, 2010 by calebian22

Probably not, since I am still in contact with my old bosses and business is good. I would love to work as a remote operator here in Sweden, but my industry just doesn't exist here, because, ding, ding, ding, tell em what they have won Bob! It is too expensive. Industry and manufacturing is on the decline in the US, but it is in it's death throws here in Sweden.
22:42 April 12, 2010 by uunbeliever
well calebian22 you got me there, another American that knows the US is better. Typical bull that it is better because YOU were better off. Go back to the US and enjoy your hard earned cash. By By!
23:18 April 12, 2010 by kenny8076
Calebian i have to agree with the price for quality here in Sweden. I moved here last December so its only been a few months, but everything is more expensive and you get less of EVERYTHING. My father is mailing essentials all the time. I refuse to pay for a Mach 3 shaver for 170SEK ($25) with only one razor, when there 9 bucks back home with 3 razors. hell go to cosco and you can get 5 for $40!!! And uunbeliever I'm tired of you Europeans talking about your free this and that, ITS NOT FREE, you pay some of the highest taxes in the world for certain things, and again the quality isn't ''great'', this site was reporting a few months back about swedes going to Norway to get MRI's because the lines at hospitals here were too long lol!!! So you go and buy that $2000 36inch flat screen at siba and we will go and get one at Best Buy for $700(as soon as we can snap our Sambos of this need to be around family)...... and I'm not sure what car insurance is here because i also refuse to pay $400 or 500 to get a license, but mine was $52 a month in VA!
00:28 April 13, 2010 by here for the summer
This is a political slanted story and essentially a statistical lie put on the people to support more tax and income redistribution in Sweden . If i read this correctly household income on a per person basis is virtually equal. 19 times 2 equals 38 percent, one percent more than a household with two wage earners. Here's the quote from the article.

'While children living with co-habiting parents enjoyed an increase in economic standard of 37 percent over the period, children living with single parents only saw their household incomes improve by 19 percent.'"
01:37 April 13, 2010 by Frobobbles
Relative poverty means that people that live relatively rich in a rich country gets to be counted as poor. Hooray... it is such a dumb concept.
06:25 April 13, 2010 by för30årseden
What the heck is an "average median income?" I guess that's like the old George Carlin question: "What's a guest host?" Maybe the local has become serious journalism -- like "real journalists" they use important sounding words that the don't understand.
07:37 April 13, 2010 by Byggare Bob
08:38 April 13, 2010 by calebian22

You were the one that asked how is "your" health insurance , car insurance, tuition, etc with the expectation that my experience would be the same as yours. I just answered your questions anecdotally. For me the US was better. I moved to Sweden for love not because Sweden is better than the US.
09:45 April 13, 2010 by wifey
Interesting article, funny that there was no mention of the high bidrag single parents in Sweden receive, alimony and lowered dagis or fritids.... A single parent can get as much as 50% of housing costs from bostadsbidrag!
11:51 April 13, 2010 by here for the summer
The other thing the report miss represents is the regional variations in costs of living. The smaller industrial towns have much lower housing costs than the bigger cities so regional variations in income are expected and can't be directly translated. Housing is cheaper salaries are lower in these smaller cities. The left party asked for this report to support their position not to find facts.
21:18 April 13, 2010 by Coalbanks
Poverty inspires people to work hard & succeed. Just look how well it has worked in Canada, USA, UK, Ok , bad examples, how about Russia, Italy, France, hm? no better, eh? , well how about China? - they don't make $26000/yr & see how sussessful they are, they can afford to buy Swedish cars!
10:19 April 15, 2010 by kateland
Nobody has brought up the issue of why there are so many single parents to begin with. I think that people need to be more responsible about their choices and use protection if they aren't ready to properly support a child instead of leeching off of the system. And if a relationship does not work out and a couple splits up (it happens), does this automatically make this child a single parent child? Or does the other parent have no responsibility to pay child support?

I find it hard to believe that all of the financial burden would be left with the parent who has full custody and that the government wouldn't require the other parent to pay monthly support payments to the "single parent".

At least in the US dead-beat parents are required to pay support if the other parent seeks a court order.

How does it work here?
09:54 April 16, 2010 by Kronaboy
It is interesting that in the UK most single unemployed parents tend to fair substantially better than couples with children with only one partner working. I sat down and did the sums a couples of years ago when I was earning around £17K (and being told by social services that I was entitled to nothing because I was stupid enough to get up for work each morning) I calculated that taking into account paying rent to blood sucking leeches, community tax etc... I would need to be earning around £31K to have the same level of disposable income????
10:11 April 16, 2010 by Kronaboy
Median is how much the majority of the population actually earn as opposed to the mean average which is distorted because the majority of capital is in the hands of a minority elite; hence allowing the UK Government to boast how the average income is now around £36K when the reality is the average man, i.e. shop worker, the waiter, is probably earning around £15K, and hence is forced to work in other part time jobs to make ends meet.
15:59 April 16, 2010 by Icarusty
The way poverty measured is flawed. Because the majority of earners get a payrise, all of a sudden thousands more enter poverty, just like that? Malnutrition, no power, no clean water, no heating. That's poverty.
23:49 April 16, 2010 by catvox
Swedes don't know the meaning of poverty. Come to South Africa and you will understand what it means.
13:02 May 16, 2010 by steve_38
Same as in UK too many bleeding hearts around single parents.

Yes of course the ones I feel sorry for are the ones who were in solid decentrelationships and then split up (But make sure the ex partners pay proper child maintenance).

But why so many Girls getting pregnanat with no thought as to who is going to pay to bring the child up !!!!!!!!!.

No responsibility or accountability.

My 18 year old daughter and her boyfriend both work on very low wages, she would be better off getting pregnant and kicking him out and claiming benefits as a single parent. She would never do this and will end up paying for the scum who do do this.

Also why do single parents have so may kids if its so hard ?.

Also with the above comments

Houses in Sweden are dirt cheap anywhere (Stockholm as well).

Most other things more expensive.

Tax is barmy beyond belief.

But no one works hard.

So its about balance.
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