Swedes on TOP – 10 reasons why Swedes do it better!
While the world-spread buzz about Sweden’s introduction to the 6-hour work day might not have been the life changing experience many might have hoped for(as it was not true), we still have quite a few reasons to celebrate.
Not only is Sweden one of the world’s most sustainable and environmentally friendly countries, we also rank as some of the most gender-equal, well-travelled, fashion forward and creative people on the planet. And well, we can’t ignore the fact that we’re freaking hot (#fuckjantelagen).
(full reference list in the end of the article)
1. Market leading music makers
Sweden is the world’s third biggest exporter of music after the UK and the United States (honestly, how cool is that?). Pictured is Max Martin, the Stockholm born producer who has produced over 20 number 1 singels on the Billboard list for artists like Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and many more. Over 58 songs have made it to Top 10 on the Billboard list.
Because of him Sweden is now the #1 exporter of chart music in relation to GDP.
Success stories like ABBA, Roxette and Ace of Base are all Swedish and more recently we have been dominating the modern house/electronic and pop scene with talents like Avicii, Alesso, Robyn, The Knife, Icona Pop and of course Swedish House Mafia – just to name a few. Also, former “Idol”-contestant Måns Zelmerlöw recently won us our sixth victory in the Eurovision Song Contest, putting us as number two on the list over most wins (Ireland, we’re taking you next). Other famous Swedish born producers with a long list of hit songs are RedOne, Rami Yacoub and ISHi who amongst other popular songs made Tinie Tempah’s Written in the Stars.
2. Our billion dollar minds
Sweden is number one on the list of countries with the highest GCI (Global Creativity Index), and number five on the Global Technology Index – mainly thanks to world leading Swedish tech and web companies such as Skype, Spotify & Soundcloud who were all founded by brilliant Swedish minds. While on that note – do we need to remind you about the fact that H&M, IKEA and Volvo are all a product of our beloved country? Inventions like the dynamit, the zipper and the pacemaker are also Swedish.
3. Marriage material
Together with our Scandi neighbor Norway; Swedish men make the best husbands in the world according to a British study on domestic roles. What makes Scandinavian men great marriage material you might ask? Well, It’s very much linked to our high egalitarian index and how cooperative Swedish men are when it comes to taking care of children and helping with housework. Big up!
4. Fikapaus and coffee addicts
A slightly more surprising Swede-fact to us here at LondonSwedes was to find that Sweden place third on the list of the world’s largest coffee drinking countries. Netherlands are clear winners (yes, more coffee = win) with an average of 2.4 cups per day and person. The Finnish sips on 1.8 cups and Swedes approximately 1.4 per day. Actually, with the everlasting darkness of our winters, I guess it might not be THAT surprising…
Also standard at most workplaces is to have a “fikapaus” from time to time, a dedicated 15 min to sipping coffee.
5. The most sustainable country in the world
Thanks to a kind use of renewable energy sources and low carbon dioxide emissions Sweden is ranked THE most sustainable country in the world – in fact, Sweden is aiming to be the world’s first fossil fuel-free country. On top of that, Sweden is viewed as a pioneer when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) involving not only sustainability through the environment, but also gender equality, anti-corruption and human rights. Sweden remains one of the world’s least corrupt countries, raking fourth on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index in 2012.
Also, we grew up with “källsortering” (sorting and recycling) and in many households it’s common to use different bins for glass, food waste, plastic, papers and general waste. We can also recycle plastic, aluminum and glass in most of the countries supermarkets giving us money or credits to use in store. 90% of all aluminum cans are recycled in Sweden.
6. The most equal country in the world
“The Global Gender Gap Report” from 2013 showed that women in Sweden (again joining our fellow Scandinavian neighbors in the top, first place snatched by Iceland) are most likely to participate in politics and the country’s economic environment. A large contributor are the policies that help to balance work and family life (parental leave anyone? In Sweden parents get 480 days to split between them however they like!) This information is good enough for us – we hereby declare Sweden one of the best places to be born and live as a woman.
At Södermalm in Stockholm there is also a gender-neutral kindergarten called Egalia where for example the books have been carefully selected to avoid traditional presentations of gender and parenting roles.
So, out with the likes of Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, and in with, for example, a book about two giraffes who find an abandoned baby crocodile and adopt it. At Egalia boys are free to dress up and to play with dolls, if that is what they want to do.
When it comes to gay rights we legalised homosexual relationships in 1944, about 1944 years to late, but hey, still leading an example for the rest of the world! We are the 7th country in the world to introduce same-sex marriage and that was in 2009.
“Hen” is also the new gender neutral word for he or she introduced in 2010.
The word was first proposed in 1966, and again in 1994, with reference to the Finnish hän, a personal pronoun that is gender-neutral, since Finnish does not have grammatical genders. However, it did not receive widespread recognition until around 2010.
7. Best country to raise your family
We are also on top three of the best countries to raise a child, after Austria and Finland.
There is a reason why Swedes are fleeing London when it’s time for children. Not only do parents get parental leave in a totalt of 480 days together as mentioned above, but we also get to place children at kindergarten paying depending on income but we’re talking about max £150/month. That’s the price of consuming two lattes everyday…
While Sweden still ranks in first for the cost of childcare and education, it dropped places for the quality of education and for family well-being. However, the education in Sweden is free, even universities, compared to the £9 000 /year in the UK.
8. Most powerful passport in the world
…and most sold on the black market. Swedes love to travel and are actually one of the most well-travelled people in the world, and we also possess the most powerful passport. Not only does it give us visa-free entry to 174 different countries, it is also by far the cheapest among those with the same access. A new adult Swedish passport costs £28 which is more than half the price of the UK passport (£72,50). Maybe our easy-access passport plays a part in our urge to travel, maybe not. Either way Swedes travel on average 6 times per year, and therefore place third after Finland (7.5) and USA (6.7). Up, Up and Away!
Sweden’s passport has been named the most powerful in the world, but it turns out it’s also one of the most highly sought-after travel documents on the black market.
The latest research suggests Swedish passports are among the most frequently sold in underground trading, as there is no upper limit on the number of replacements available to the rightful holder.
They can sell for as much as £6,000 each – far more than the £28 fee that Sweden’s government charges for new or renewed travel documents.
9. Swedes = Suicidal?
A rather common myth about Sweden is that we are persistently depressed and constantly on the verge of suicide (OK, maybe not quite). Either way, we are quite sure this all stems from a spreading jealousy (see: this whole article), as the majority of surveys and stats on the world’s suicide rates actually never rank Sweden even in the top 50.
Sweden has a suicide rate which is below the OECD average. It was in the 20th century when Sweden had one of the highest reported suicide rates in the First World. That rate exceeded that of other nations on the continent such as the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom. However, that rate declined decade after decade as time went on. We are not number one here but the 32 days of complete darkness every years is not helping anyone!
10. Language skills
For the third year in a row, EF Education First (Also Swedish, and now the biggest education company in the world) has rated Sweden Top 3 in its English Proficiency Index. Previous Country Manager of Sweden, Sine Ejsing, states that it’s probably because we start learning English early in school, and pick up the language from American and British TV programs and movies (#ProTip @ almost every single other European country who dub their TV shows?)
“Even outside of school English is considered to be a high status language, kids think it’s cool”.
So now that we have established that Swedes are good-looking, well-travelled and good at English, is there anything that we are not amazing at? Sweden is quite known for having an anti-social culture and some people would describe Swedes as reserved, shy and boring. Talking to strangers is not our specialty, and if you purposely sit next to us on the bus while there are other seats not taken, we might take you for either a drunk or a mentally instable weirdo. That could be one reason to why many Swedes choose to move somewhere else – over 100 000 Swedish-born people live in the UK. This number can be discussed. There are 60 000 registered Swedes in the UK according to the Swedish Embassy.
Text: Mimmi Söderström, Antonia Ansgariusson
Full reference list:
For more facts on Swedes and Sweden, check out: http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/countries/sweden/