Could maps of Sweden be completely redrawn?

The Swedish government has announced plans to merge old counties into new administrative regions, in a bid to change a centuries old tradition that could see the map of Sweden completely redrawn.

Could maps of Sweden be completely redrawn?
Know your Swedish geography? Think again. Photo: Shutterstock

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Sweden has enjoyed the fastest rate of urbanization in Europe in recent years, which has put pressure on today's regional councils, Minister for Public Administration Ardalan Shekarabi writes in an opinion piece for newspaper Dagens Nyheter, published on Monday.

"The time has come to update Sweden's geographical division and create regional organizations that are more compatible with the needs and expectations of the modern citizen," he writes.

A decision on how to merge Sweden's 20 counties into new so called 'greater regions' is to be taken by December 2017 at the latest. The extensive reform would then take place gradually with one or more new regions being created by January 2019.

Sweden's administrative division into counties was originally conceived in the 17th century and has not changed much in the past hundred years. It has not adapted to the challenges of the country's modern society, writes Shekarabi, of the leading Social Democrat-Green coalition government.

“People don't let their dreams or everyday needs stop at administrative municipality or county borders. Citizens today move across significantly bigger geographical areas than before, and most civic issues concern more than just one county. It is obvious that the current divisions into counties is not adapted to this. Sweden's regional division needs to be modernized,” he adds.

The administration of Sweden is heavily decentralized, and county councils are in charge of issues such as health care and public transport.

If his calls lead to changes, it would not be the first time two or more regional councils have merged in Sweden in recent decades. In 1997-1998 the Skåne region was created from Malmöhus and Kristianstad counties, and the Västra Götaland county from former Göteborgs and Bohus county and Älvsborg and Skaraborg counties.

A government inquiry proposed dividing Sweden into six to nine greater regions in 2007, but no move to put the proposal into action was ever made.

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One in ten Swedish newborns to live to 100

Statistics Sweden has predicted that eleven percent of girls born in 2012 will live to be older than 100, with about six percent of boys reaching the same age.

One in ten Swedish newborns to live to 100

A third of Swedes alive today will be older than 90 when they die, but Statistics Sweden (Statistiska centralbyrån – SCB) now say that by 2060, half of Swedes will reach the age bracket.

Half a decade ago, only ten percent of Swedes reached their nineties.

As time progresses, more and more Swedes will also live past the century-mark, with more than one in ten girls reaching 100. In the same time frame, six percent of boys born today will reach that age.

The biggest population increase is in the 65-plus age bracket, which will have added one million people by 2060. There will be another half million children and teenagers, and also half a million Swedes between 20 and 64.

In short, the number of Swedes at an age where they are likely to be in employment will not increase as much as older citizens.

Other noteworthy nuggets in the population report published on Wednesday include Sweden passing the 10-million citizens mark in 2017. The speed in which Sweden will have added one million people to its population is unprecedented, Statistics Sweden noted. By 2040, there will be eleven million Swedes.

The state statistics bureau publishes a population analysis yearly, with a more in-depth review every three years.

Its statisticians explain the population pick-up rate with immigration and birth rates. The large number of children born around 1990 means there will be another baby boom around 2020 when that generation start having families.

Immigrants will continue to outnumber emigrants. Today, about 15 percent of Sweden’s population is born abroad. By 2060, that number is predicted to reach 18 percent.

TT/The Local/at

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