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Sweden: hard at work or hardly working?

Swedes have a reputation for studying longer, working fewer hours and enjoying more holiday leave than people in most other comparable countries, while others argue that the careerism rat race has taken hold. What do you think?

Sweden: hard at work or hardly working?

In a new series on The Local, readers are invited to have their say on a topic of the day or week, a perennial hot topic of conversation, or just a subject that engages, outrages or needs a broader airing.

First up this week is the evergreen issue of the Swedish work ethic, which has long caused consternation and evoked the curiosity of international workers moving to these northerly climes.

In a classic article on The Local from back in 2008, US native Doug Lansky, came to the conclusion that full-time Swedish workers could in theory claim up to 130 days off per year and pondered this encouraged a work-shy attitude.

Arguing from a distinctly different point of view, 28-year-old Stockholm resident Andreas Jonsson, argues in The Local this week that Swedish working life has become so status-stressed and careerist that it has left a generation unable to find satisfaction in their career choice mediocrity.

As the eurozone debt crisis continues to rage, the Swedish economy has been regularly held up as a pond of probity and health in a European sea of debt and decadence.

With national debt and unemployment levels relatively low, and GDP stable, is the Swedish work ethic a contributing factor, or a hindrance to greater growth, wealth and success?

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OBAMA

Obama reveals he wants to work for… Spotify?

Barack Obama may be leaving the White House, but it looks like he's got his future all planned out.

Obama reveals he wants to work for... Spotify?
Barack Obama on a visit to Sweden in 2013. Photo: AP Photo/Frank Augstein

One of Obama's favourite trips abroad was his 2013 visit to Sweden, US tech entrepreneur, podcast editor and former The Local blogger Natalia Brzezinski has revealed the president told her.

She and her husband Mark Brzezinski, who was the US ambassador to Sweden 2011-2015, were invited to the White House on Wednesday evening along with other diplomats appointed by Obama.

“I finally got the chance to thank him for the life-changing appointment to Sweden,” she wrote in a post on Instagram.

“He said word for word: 'I loved visiting you in Stockholm, it was my favourite trip. I plan to go back there really soon'.”

Obama went to Stockholm on an official state visit in 2013. And Brzezinski, the CEO of creative tech festival Symposium Stockholm, revealed she tried to tempt him back to attend its Brilliant Minds conference in June.

He did not promise anything, but did at least urge Brzezinski to “send him the details”.

Obama leaves his post on January 20th, handing over the reins to Republican president-elect Donald Trump. As for the outgoing president's future, it looks like he's got his heart set on a certain Swedish music streaming giant.

“I'm still waiting for my job at Spotify… 'cause I know y'all loved my playlist,” Brzezinski quoted him as saying.

We are pretty sure he was joking, but it is not the first time Obama has praised Sweden.

Former prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt revealed in an interview last year that the US president had told him on his visit to Stockholm that he would love to return again with his family.

“Shortly thereafter I met Michelle and Barack Obama again in New York and Michelle confirmed that Barack talked to her about it after his visit to Stockholm. I said I hoped they would find time to return after his presidency,” Reinfeldt told the Aftonbladet tabloid in September.