Swede stress lowest in the world: study

Swedish business leaders suffer the lowest levels of stress in the world, far behind their Chinese and Mexican counterparts, according to a new survey published by US consultancy firm Grant Thornton.

Swede stress lowest in the world: study

Only 23 percent of Swedish business leaders experienced themselves to be more stressed in November 2009 in comparison to a year before, in contrast to 76 percent in mainland China, according to the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR).

The report surveyed 7,400 privately-owned businesses in 36 countries in November 2009 and found that Chinese (76), Mexican (74), Turkish (72), Vietnamese (72) and Greek (68) business leaders experienced the highest levels of increased stress.

The cool Swedish business leaders were joined by the Danes (25), Finns (33), Australians (35) and Canadians (36) in enjoying the lowest levels of increased stress worldwide, with the global average being 56.

Business leaders were asked about the major causes of workplace stress. The most common cause was the economic climate with 38 percent, followed by pressure on cash flow (26), competitor activities (21), and heavy workload (19).

The report indicated that there was a link between GDP growth and stress levels with business leaders in many of the faster developing countries experiencing higher levels of increased stress. Although Ireland, Spain and Greece also rated highly on the tables.

The study also appeared to establish a link between holidays and stress with countries at the top of the stress league being those where business owners take fewer holiday days each year.

Typically business leaders in northern European countries take the greatest number of holiday days with the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Finland all taking between 22 and 24 days per annum with correspondingly relative low stress levels as a result. By contrast in Vietnam, rated third in the stress league, business owners take an average of only seven days of annual holiday.

Grant Thornton launched a major annual survey of the attitudes and expectations of small and medium-sized businesses in European countries in 1992, it was expanded to cover the global environment in 2003.

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Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

A reader got in touch to ask how long he had to work in Sweden before he was eligible for a pension. Here are Sweden's pension rules, and how you can get your pension when the time comes.

Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

The Swedish pension is part of the country’s social insurance system, and it can seem like a confusing beast at times. The good news is that if you’re living and working here, you’ll almost certainly be earning towards a pension, and you’ll be able to get that money even if you move elsewhere before retirement.

You will start earning your Swedish general pension, or allmän pension, once you’ve earned over 20,431 kronor in a single year, and – for almost all kinds of pension in Sweden – there is no time limit on how long you must have lived in Sweden before you are eligible.

The exception is the minimum guarantee pension, or garantipension, which you can receive whether you’ve worked or not. To be eligible at all for this, you need to have lived in Sweden for a period of at least three years before you are 65 years old. 

“There’s a limit, but it’s a money limit,” Johan Andersson, press secretary at the Swedish Pension Agency told The Local about the general pension. “When you reach the point that you start paying tax, you start paying into your pension.”

“But you have to apply for your pension, make sure you get in touch with us when you want to start receiving it,” he said.

Here’s our in-depth guide on how you can maximise your Swedish pension, even if you’re only planning on staying in Sweden short-term.

Those who spend only a few years working in Sweden will earn a much smaller pension than people who work here for their whole lives, but they are still entitled to something – people who have worked in Sweden will keep their income pension, premium pension, supplementary pension and occupational pension that they have earned in Sweden, even if they move to another country. The pension is paid no matter where in the world you live, but must be applied for – it is not automatically paid out at retirement age.

If you retire in the EU/EEA, or another country with which Sweden has a pension agreement, you just need to apply to the pension authority in your country of residence in order to start drawing your Swedish pension. If you live in a different country, you should contact the Swedish Pensions Agency for advice on accessing your pension, which is done by filling out a form (look for the form called Ansök om allmän pension – om du är bosatt utanför Sverige).

The agency recommends beginning the application process at least three months before you plan to take the pension, and ideally six months beforehand if you live abroad. It’s possible to have the pension paid into either a Swedish bank account or an account outside Sweden.

A guarantee pension – for those who live on a low income or no income while in Sweden – can be paid to those living in Sweden, an EU/EEA country, Switzerland or, in some cases, Canada. This is the only Swedish pension which is affected by how long you’ve lived in Sweden – you can only receive it if you’ve lived in the country for at least three years before the age of 65.

“The guarantee pension is residence based,” Andersson said. “But it’s lower if you haven’t lived in Sweden for at least 40 years. You are eligible for it after living in Sweden for only three years, but it won’t be that much.”