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Reinfeldt blames wealth gap on Social Democrats

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Reinfeldt blames wealth gap on Social Democrats
17:29 CET+01:00
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt blamed the Social Democrats for Sweden's growing wealth gap following the publication on Monday of a report showing that Swedes are nevertheless much better off today than they were a decade ago.

While incomes have increased at all levels in Sweden since 2000, the increases have been greater for wealthier Swedes, according to a new report from Statistics Sweden (SCB) which examines Swedes' standard of living.

Overall, Swedes' standard of living is 40 percent higher in 2011 than it was in 1999.

But while incomes rose by 55 percent for the ten percent of Swedes with the highest standard of living, the portion of the population with the lowest standard of living only saw their incomes rise by 21 percent.

In addition, the percentage of the population with a low standard of living rose from 8.4 percent in 1999 to 14.4 percent in 2011.

According to SCB, a low standard of living, or low economic standard, is defined as having a disposable income lower than 60 percent of the median value of the overall population. In 2011 the median value was 210,200 kronor ($33,000).

Commenting on the figures, Reinfeldt was quick to lay blame on his Social Democrat predecessor as prime minister.

"A large portion of these growing divisions took place during Göran Persson's time in power," Reinfeldt told the TT news agency.

He added that the government has implemented a number of redistributive policies, including raising housing supplements for pensioners and families with small children.

Reinfeldt added that he's open to considering additional redistributive measures to help single parents as the current regime of in-work tax credits (jobbskatteavdraget) may not be sufficient.

According to SCB's figures, Swedes overall standard of living in 2011 was 40 percent higher than it was in 1999.

The youngest Swedes have also seen their standard of living increase by more than Sweden's elderly. For those under age 20, the increase was 46 percent while those age 75 and above had an increase of 26 percent.

The report also found that foreign-born adults (aged 20 and above) only saw a 27 percent increase in their standard of living, compared to a 41 percent increase for Swedish born adults.

TT/The Local/dl

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