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indicator value unit
Population 9.5 mil.
Visitors per year 5.0 mil.
Renewable energy 35.24 %

How’s Life?

Sweden performs exceptionally well in overall well-being, as shown by the fact that it ranks among the top countries in a large number of topics in the Better Life Index.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Sweden, the average household net-adjusted disposable income is 26 242 USD a year, more than the OECD average of 23 047 USD a year. But there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn more than four times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, around 74% of people aged 15 to 64 in Sweden have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 66%. Some 76% of men are in paid work, compared with 72% of women. People in Sweden work 1 644 hours a year, less than the OECD average of 1 776 hours. Only 1% of employees work very long hours, much less than the OECD average of 9%.

Having a good education is an important requisite for finding a job. In Sweden, 87% of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, higher than the OECD average of 74%. This is truer of women than men, as 85% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 88% of women. In terms of the quality of the educational system, the average student scored 496 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), close to the OECD average of 497. On average in Sweden, girls outperformed boys by 17 points, more than the average OECD gap of 9 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Sweden is almost 82 years, two years higher than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 84 years, compared with 80 for men. The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 10 micrograms per cubic meter, considerably lower than the OECD average of 21 micrograms per cubic meter. Sweden also does well in terms of water quality, as 95% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, compared with an OECD average of 84%.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and high levels of civic participation in Sweden, where 92% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, slightly higher than the OECD average of 90%. Voter turnout, a measure of public trust in government and of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 84% during recent elections. This figure is higher than the OECD average of 72%. There is little difference in voting levels across society; voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is 89% and for the bottom 20% it is 83%, narrower than the OECD average gap of 12 percentage points and suggesting there is broad social inclusion in Sweden’s democratic institutions.

In general, Swedes are more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average, with 85% of people saying they have more positive experiences in an average day (feelings of rest, pride in accomplishment, enjoyment, etc) than negative ones (pain, worry, sadness, boredom, etc). This figure is higher than the OECD average of 80%.

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OECD in Action

OECD Reviews of Health Care Quality: Sweden 2013

This report reviews the quality of health care in Sweden. It highlights best practices and provides recommendations for improvements.

Read this report

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Sweden in Detail