10 Reminders That I Live in Sweden…


I know I’ve been living in Sweden when:

  1. Someone I know plays golf and votes for the Left Party
  2. I’m wearing red pants and I don’t think twice about it (I also have a pair of bright green and light blue slacks.)
  3. I’m no longer uncomfortable with long periods of silence
  4. But I wrap up converations with a strange “ummm” that starts low and ends mid range, signalling to the other Swedes that this conversation is over
  5. I walk past a slide at a playground that’s shaped like a caviar tube
  6. I have an adjustable desk at work so I can stand up (Employers are required to provide stand-up desks.)
  7. I took five weeks off this summer — two weeks of vacation and three weeks of paternity leave
  8. There’s an election coming up, and I just passed a sign for a political party called: The Pirate Party
  9. I have opinions about Swedish meatballs and have gotten used to robotic lawnmowers
  10. I feel a bit emotional when I hear Öppna Landskap

Sweden continues to expand nuclear energy production

The Forsmark nuclear power plant on the east coast of Sweden, taken by Arenamontanus

The Swedish government is showing no signs of reversing its plans to expand nuclear energy in the aftermath of the ongoing catastrophe at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan.

According to figures from the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, Sweden will boost nuclear power output by over 12 percent at eight of the country’s ten nuclear power plants.

A renewed nuclear debate

Less than nine months ago, Sweden’s center-right minority government narrowly passed historic legislation that lifted a 30-year ban on building new nuclear reactors.

Now opposition parties are once again questioning the government’s strategy. Some nuclear experts are expressing safety concerns with particular aspects of the program. And a new poll shows 64 percent of Swedes opposing the construction of new nuclear power plants.

“The government chose nuclear power over renewable energy,” says Anders Lindgren, op-ed columnist at Aftonbladet, a newspaper whose editorial pages are affiliated with the Social Democrats. “The current situation in Japan is an uncomfortable reminder of how badly thought out that policy was.”

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt defended his government’s position on television last week. He said that the world needed to learn from what had happened in Japan. But he emphasized that all energy production had an impact on the environment. Read More

Sweden darkest on maternity leave map

Length of Maternity Leave around the WorldSwedish parental leave is the most generous in the world

One of the first things you’ll notice if you visit Sweden are the mothers with their babies. Then you’ll notice the fathers with the babies. Finally, you’ll start to see babies everywhere.

You wouldn’t be imagining it. Sweden is in the midst of a baby boom. The country has one of the highest fertility rates in the European Union. There are many reasons for it, but one that has been cited many times is Sweden’s generous paid parental leave benefits to parents.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Sweden’s progressive paid parental leave is a key reason for rapid procreation in this country. I think parents have less stress in Sweden. They don’t have to put their kids in daycare when they’re 6-weeks-old. They don’t have to stress out about missing work if their kids get sick or spending thousands of dollars on daycare every month.

Less stress equals more sex. There’s nothing more to say on the matter.

If you weren’t convinced that Swedish parental leave rocks, this Save the Children report is more proof. Sweden was ranked fourth in 2010 on a list of the best places to be a mother, behind Norway, Australia, and Iceland.

My truth about tax in Sweden

The Swedish krona is strong
The Swedish krona is strong

Sweden’s GDP will hit roughly 7% in the first quarter of 2011 despite something we are all supposed to fear — high Swedish taxes.

But I love Swedish taxes. Yup I said it. Sure we pay a lot of taxes in Sweden. This includes a 25% sales tax, income tax, and a super progressive tax.

Personally, I’m sick and tired of hearing people complain about higher taxes.

Rich Swedes pay a ton of taxes, up to 65% for the richest. Isn’t that great? In the United States, the rich pay somewhere between 40 and 48%.  You  may have noticed the American economy isn’t doing so well right now. When the tax code in America was more progressive, the country was doing much better than it is today.

Call me a crazy socialist, an old-fashioned European. But you know what, Sweden still has a thriving middle class. The same can’t be said for many other countries, such as the United States, where the middle class is under serious threat.

According to a recent OECD report, Sweden spends more of its GDP on social services such as free education and health care than any other country in the world. Who can argue with that?

And it works. Even Bill Clinton says the Swedish model is back in fashion.

So, tonight, I will go out and have a few drinks, happy to buy a beer, and pay extra for it, knowing that the money is funding something great like free education or public transportation.

Those of you with opinions on taxes, tell us which system you think works best and why.