Stockholm ‘second-best-performing city’ in Europe (and the rest of Sweden isn’t bad, either): report

Stockholm, with its booming tech scene and manufacturing industry, is Europe's second best-performing city when it comes to offering opportunities for prosperity, according to a new report.

Stockholm 'second-best-performing city' in Europe (and the rest of Sweden isn't bad, either): report
Stockholm's vibrant tech scene is one of its advantages, according to the report. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The California-based Milken Institute think tank ranked 125 European large regions in its first 'Best-Performing Cities Europe Index', measuring their economic performance using “outcomes-based metrics including job creation, wage gains, manufacturing, and skilled service industry concentration”.

Stockholm zoomed into second place, behind the UK's inner London-East region. East-central Sweden (Östra Mellansverige), including university town Uppsala, just missed out on the top-ten in 11th place.

The report mentioned Stockholm's performance in diverse tech fields, such as online gaming, life sciences, mobile communications, fintech, cleantech, digitized music, and its manufacturing tradition.

“Stockholm has one of the top ecosystems in the world for creating and launching new firms, with a thriving early-stage financing community that would rival American tech centres such as Austin or Portland,” wrote Milken Institute, also noting Sweden's highly-educated homegrown talent.

But all is not plain sailing. The report also highlighted Stockholm's housing shortage as its main challenge, but mentioned the government's drive to invest more in rental homes to ease the pain and also urged Sweden to create “incentives for new private investment” on top of increasing supply.

It added that “despite the housing shortages, Stockholm's economy is flourishing and may eclipse Inner London-East in the future”.

READ ALSO: The story of Sweden's housing crisis

East-central Sweden made 11th place thanks to its high density of research hubs in the form of Uppsala University, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Mälardalen University in Västerås.

“Its educated population is an asset; 38 percent of working-age residents have tertiary qualifications (7.3 percent above the European average),” commented the report about Sweden's education level.

It added that the region's diversified economy “is less vulnerable to economic shocks”, but noted again that “rising housing prices across Sweden are a potential source of instability”.

Umeå University campus in summer. Photo: Jonatan Stålhös/

The report also included a ranking of 154 small regions in Europe. In that list, northern Sweden (Övre Norrland) came 10th, southern Sweden 18th and Småland (home to Ikea's headquarters) 37th.

“Övre Norrland debutes at No 10 in the Best-Performing Cities Europe small cities ranking. The region boasts high long-term growth rates in the high-tech services category,” said the report, praising the region's health and biotech industries and commended it for a strong focus on innovation.

“The low rate of urbanization allows the region to retain its natural resources, and forestry and mining remain two of the area's key sectors,” it added. “Despite its uninhabited nature, the region houses two large universities, Luleå University of Technology and Umeå University, both of which help attract innovation to the area.”

Top-ten best-performing cities, large regions

1. Inner London-East, United Kingdom
2. Stockholm, Sweden
3. Budapest, Hungary
4. Pomorskie, Poland (includes Gdańsk)
5. Nord-Vest, Romania
6. Dolnoslaskie, Poland (includes Wrocław)
7. Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
8. Oberbayern, Germany (includes Munich)
9. Outer London-West and North West, United Kingdom
10. Yugozapaden, Bulgaria (includes Sofia)

Top-ten best-performing cities, small regions

1. Pest, Hungary
2. Prov. Brabant Wallon, Belgium
3. Sostines regionas, Lithuania
4. Southern, Ireland
5. Stredné Slovensko, Slovakia
6. Inner London-West, United Kingdom
7. Nyugat-Dunántúl, Hungary
8. Stredni Cechy, Czech Republic
9. Zentralschweiz, Switzerland
10. Övre Norrland, Sweden