Synthesis 2013 > Sweden

Sweden 2013

Sweden was for the first time surveyed this year in the framework of this Trend Observatory. With their low level of concern, high feeling of protection and their appetite for risk, Swedish people provide an insightful counter-model.

A much lower level of concern than in the rest of Europe

Swedish citizens are much less worried by the perspective of varied risks than other Europeans surveyed. Not even one of the seventeen risks tested that can affect someone’s health, property or family members (ranging from the death of a member of the household to a possible loss of autonomy or the theft of one’s car) are a source of concern to a majority of Swedish respondents (compared to 14 out of 17 for the European average).
Risks that concern Swedish people the most are a serious illness affecting a member of their household (49%) or the death of a closed person (47%). Even when it comes only to these two risks, Swedish are however much less worried than the European average: 78% of the Europeans surveyed declared they are worried by the risk of a member of their household contracting a serious disease and 76% by the possibility that one of them would die.

Risks linked to the economic situation are even less a source of worry to Swedish people: only 21% are feeling concerned by the risk of losing their job (compared to 56% on average) and 11% by the possibility that their spouse/partner would become unemployed (compared to 49%). Only 26% of the Swedish respondents cite unemployment among the 3 risks that worry them the most. Unemployment is less worrying to them than financial risks (38%), medical risks (38%), road risks (36%), the risk of being mugged or robbed (35%) or even computer-related risks (27%).

A protective welfare system

A majority of the Swedish population has the feeling that the welfare system in their country works well (64% compared to 43% on average). If 92% consider yet that in order to guarantee its future, the Swedish social system has to be reformed, only 39% (compared to 57% on average) consider that it must be extensively reformed.

Swedish people are also a bit less worried than the European average by possible cuts in public spending when it comes to social welfare: unlike the average, only a minority believes the public sector in Sweden will lower its level of help for family assistance (38% compared to 57% on average), retirement pensions (45% compared to 52%), assistance for the neediest (45% compared to 50%), unemployment benefits (41% compared to 53%), optical and dental treatment or care (41% compared to 52%), hospitalization (44% compared to 53%) or reimbursement of medication and medical examinations (44% compared to 57%).

In the eyes of 86% of the Swedish citizens, an effective social welfare model is one in which the state as, if not the biggest role, an important role to play (a proportion similar to the European average).
They tend to fear less that the State would in the coming years play en ever smaller role in social welfare (only 39% think so, compared to 49% on average). They however believe more than others that family solidarity will have an increasing role in the future (70% compared 59% on average). A majority is also convinced that private and mutual insurance companies will take an increasing part in social welfare (61% compared to 60% on average).

A unique sense of protection

Certainly as a result of a combination of a better economic situation and an effective social welfare system, Swedish feel much more protected from the effects of the crisis than other Europeans.

Only a minority of Swedish consider they are more vulnerable today than 5 years ago towards a series of risks, such as experiencing financial difficulties (only 38% consider they are more at risk today, compared to 62% for the European average), being plunged into a precarious situation (37%; compared to 59% on average), losing their job (26% compared to 51%) or even experiencing family-related difficulties, like a divorce or disputes (18% compared to 33% on average). A majority feels neither more nor less at risk or even less at risk than 5 years ago. When it comes to the risk of unemployment for example, 40% feel neither more nor less at risk and 34% feel less at risk.

All in all, a short majority of Swedish people even feel better protected against these risks than 5 years ago (51% compared to 32% on average). Sweden is the only country surveyed where a majority of respondents have this feeling.

Sweden is also the country where people have the least the feeling that they are taking risks in their everyday life (55% compared to 62%), certainly as a result of their unique sense of protection.

An appetite for risk-taking

More confident than other Europeans, Swedish people are also more attracted by risk-taking.
They are the ones who consider the most risk as something exciting (58% compared to 41% on average). A majority of them also consider that in order to be successful, it is better to take a lot of risks (61% compared to 48% on average) and that it is better to teach young people that in life, you have to be able to take risks, even if you end up paying the price of failing (68% compared to 59% on average).

However, only 9% of the Swedish respondents feel that risk-taking is more promoted in their country than in other European Union countries.

Despite their modesty, Swedish citizens are champions of Europe for confidence.

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