Poverty drops in Sweden: report

The number of poor households in Sweden has decreased after a dramatic rise over the last ten years, according to figures that the Parliamentary Investigative Service (Riksdagens utredningstjänst - RUT) has calculated on the behest of the Left Party.

The figures for 2012 build on prognoses from the National Institute of Economic Research (Konjunkturinstitutet) and the National Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) and measures relative poverty, which is the EU benchmark, where poverty is measured against 60 percent of the median income.

In Sweden 384,000 households fell under the poverty benchmark in 2003, compared to 704,000 this year. Since 2006, poverty among women has increased quicker than among men. But between 2011 and 2012 the number of women below the poverty benchmark fell from 487,000 to 459,000.

“There are still 120,000 more women living in poverty today than in 2006. They are forced to get by on 10,682 kronor ($1,586) a month and that is not easy. It is mainly the women who are paying the price of the government’s policies,” said Ulla Andersson, Left Party spokeswoman on economic policy to news agency TT.

In total, 1.1 million Swedes or 12.1 percent of Swedes are affected. The study also included the absolute poverty, measured against the social benefits norm.

Absolute poverty has been relatively constant over the years, but the number has dropped slightly this year compared with 2003 regardless of whether one measures households, men women or children.

For children, the figure is recorded at 6.7 percent, in comparison with a low of 5.9 in 2007 and a high of 7.5 in 2005.

The number of children in families who have received financial assistance was recorded as 135,000.

The average salary, which was 25,300 kronor in 2010 has grown closer to 26,000.

Jesper Hansson of KI finds it hard to believe in the relative poverty decreasing this year, even if the authorities have indeed come to this conclusion.

”I find it hard to understand how they have come to this, even if it may be correct,” Hansson said to TT.

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Sweden plummets in income equality ranking

The living conditions of most Swedes have improved in recent decades, but income inequality is growing rapidly, according to a new OECD report, which saw Sweden drop 14 spots from its first place ranking in 1995.

Sweden plummets in income equality ranking

The report, published on Wednesday, saw income distribution in Swedish households take an unparalleled shift between 1995 and 2010, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“If this development continues for five, ten years, then Sweden won’t be a poster child for equality among the OECD countries,” Michael Forster, one of the authors of the report, told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper (SvD).

The percentage of poor Swedes in 2010 was nine percent, a figure more than twice as high as in 1995 where it was just four percent.

Such a dramatic change in the OECD’s measure of relative poverty has not occurred in any of the other 33 OECD countries.

The organization, however, has been criticized for using the word ‘poverty’ in its report.

“I don’t usually use the word ‘poverty’ in this context. A measure of this kind is closer to a country’s ‘income spread’,” Hans Heggemann, who makes similar measurements for Statistics Sweden (SCB), told SvD.

“Since the end of the nineties we’ve seen sharp increases in disposable income in nearly all the groups that we can measure. The richest tenth has got much more than the rest.”

The trend of growing rifts has caused an international political debate, especially in the United States, but the topic has not been so widely talked about in Sweden, according to SvD.

TT/The Local/og

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