Sweden has moved up a rank to become the top performer in the OECD.
Democratic governance is stable and adaptive, as outstanding scores in democracy show.
The country was hit hard by the crisis, but the economic foundations (innovation, flexibility, R&D, education) as well as the political foundations (sound fiscal budgets, policy ambitions) are robust enough to facilitate rapid recovery.
The reform policies of the center-right government are resolute but at the same time cautious. Reforms in family, labor market and tax policies indicate moderate changes are being made to the country’s exemplary welfare system.
Together with Norway and Finland, Sweden leads the democracy category (+2 ranks relative to SGI 2009).
The electoral process is open and fair. Media are free and concentration is still relatively low. Sweden stands out it terms of providing the public access to government information and documents.
Civil rights and political liberties are largely protected. As one of the most egalitarian societies in the world, Sweden has in many ways led the struggle for equal opportunities, equality in political representation and in the labor market.
As a strong constitutional state, the rule of law is exceptionally well-established. Trust in the institutions of democracy and administration is high by any international comparison.
Sweden ranks 5th in terms of economic and employment policy.
Pre-crisis economic performance had been quite strong, but the effects of worldwide recession took a substantial toll on the nation’s economy. Crisis management followed traditional Swedish patterns, with a heavy reliance on welfare-state stabilizers.
Unemployment rates increased significantly, but active labor market policies have helped to curb long-term unemployment.
With the OECD’s highest total tax revenue as a percent of GDP, Sweden’s tax system is equitable, competitive and fulfills public revenue needs. The current center-right government introduced tax cuts.
With the exception of the recent crisis period, budgets have been in balance since the mid-1990s.
At rank 3, Sweden remains one of the OECD’s highest performers in terms of social affairs.
All indicators on social inclusion and equality show extremely high standards. However, the center-right government has sought to deregulate and privatize aspects of the universal welfare state.
Health care, traditionally public and organized by counties, has been gradually privatized. It remains to be seen whether this policy shift can achieve the goal of making the system more efficient.
Family policy enables both women and men to combine parenting and employment. The pension system is deemed one of the most sustainable in the OECD.
Despite the implementation of several integration programs, the integration of immigrants remains an economically, socially and culturally difficult issue .
Sweden’s defense and foreign policy rest on the foundation of non-alliance in peace and neutrality in wartime. However, the country plays a role in the emerging common foreign policy of the EU and commits resources to international missions conducted by the EU or UN.
Crime rates in Sweden are not high, although it appears that the internationalization of crime - in particular organized crime - is under way. In part to combat these problems, the government announced increased spending for the police force and judicial system for 2008-2009.
At rank 1, Sweden continues to top the OECD with respect to the sustainable use of resources.
The country has demonstrated a strong commitment to environmental protection, over-implementing its EU policy goals for CO2 emissions reduction. A proposed expansion of nuclear energy generation has been highly contested.
R&D indicators suggest an outstanding performance in this area too. Innovation is strongly supported by the government. However, the country shows a marked weakness in transforming innovations into prototypes and commercial products.
Education policy has been the focus of heated debate. The current government has advocated stricter application of grades and assessments. However, educational outcomes have improved in international comparison.