Sweden drifting from ‘Swedish model’: report

Sweden drifting from 'Swedish model': report
Sweden's historically generous social safety net isn't as robust as it once was, according to a new report, which reveals Sweden has fallen below the average for many other developed countries when it comes to various types of social insurance.

In 2005, Sweden had the second most generous unemployment insurance scheme in the world, but according to a new report the income replacement benefits for out of work Swedes ranks below the OECD average.

And for the first time since 1952, the duration of Sweden’s sickness insurance benefits, 52 weeks, is below the OECD average.

The report, commissioned through a parliamentary inquiry into Sweden’s social insurance system, indicates that while the most drastic decline in Sweden’s welfare system has occurred in the country’s unemployment insurance schemes, other welfare benefits are also less generous than in the past when compared to other developed countries the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

Joakim Palme, an author of the report, told the paper that Sweden was in the process of abandoning the famed “Swedish model”, marked by generous social insurance benefits for all citizens.

“The Swedish model was built on the idea that the majority of the population gets something for their tax money. We have come to a breaking point when not even the average Swede gets adequate income protection from general social insurance schemes,” he told SvD.

“It’s not just the high income earners who are dependent on supplementary health insurance.”

In Sweden, an unemployed person receives 80 percent of their salary for the first 200 days of unemployment, and 70 percent thereafter.

But with a cap of 18,700 kronor ($2,623) a month in unemployment benefits, only 12 percent of the unemployed Swedes receive payments that match their allowable percentage of their previous salaries.

Other social security figures, such as health and work injury insurance levels, have also been overtaken by other developed countries.

When unemployment, sickness and work-related injury benefits are added up, the maximum level of compensation in 2010 was only half the relative level available in 1975.

Sickness benefits for a manufacturing worker in Sweden dropped by 5 percent from 2005 to 20100, according to the report, at the same time as the number of available days to claim such benefits also dropped.

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