Mikael, 40, and Maria, 42, represent average Swedes (“Medelsvenssons”) of both sexes in a 2011 statistical yearbook released by Statistics Sweden (SCB).
According to the agency’s figures, drawn from statistics gathered through 2009, the average Swede is getting slightly older, in line with an increased life expectancy for both men and women living in Sweden.
Not only are Mikael and Maria getting older, but they are also getting a bit thicker around the waistline. According to SCB, 53 percent of Swedish men are overweight, while the corresponding figure for Swedish women is 37 percent.
The agency suggests that part of the reason Swedes’ increasing body mass may have something to do with the fact that 90 percent of Swedes now have a computer in their homes.
But increased time spent staring at the computer screen may have positive effects as well, SCB suggests, noting that Swedes are now more educated than ever, as the percentage of the population with post-secondary education has ballooned from 23 to 38 percent since 1990.
At the same time, Mikael and Maria are likely putting more in their bodies than in years past. While food consumption has gone up slightly, 7 percent, to an average of 3,100 calories per day, Swedes’ consumption of beer and wine has soared by 70 and 80 percent respectively in the last 20 years.
If Mikael and Maria lived in the same household, they would have had monthly expenses of around 23,000 kronor ($3,450) per month in 2009, according to SCB. On average, they would have spent about 2,900 kronor per month on groceries, 2 percent more than the year before.
Despite consuming more, Mikael and Maria nevertheless care more about the environment than in years past. They may drive one of the nearly 50,000 hybrid cars now on Swedish roads, for example. Doing so back in 2007 may have been harder, as there were fewer than 400 hybrid vehicles registered at the time.
And there is a good chance that Mikael and Maria recycle their newspapers, as 91 percent of newspapers in Sweden find their way to the recycling bin rather than the dust bin.