A Gazillion Ways Sweden Is Just Better

A Gazillion Ways Sweden Is Just Better

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Swedish Flag
Credits: Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se

Sweden seems to be a utopian society, with luxuries and standard practices that citizens of many other countries could only dream of. Sure, their tax rate is usually over 50%, but their relatively high income helps to ease that pain. Here are many, but surely not near all, of the reasons why Swedes enjoy one of the happiest and healthiest lifestyles in the world:

  • Sweden has the lowest income inequality in the world, with a Gini index of 23 in 2005.
  • Municipal music schools – that’s right, Sweden has non-mandatory, tuition-free music schools for youngsters, probably a big reason why Sweden continues to export popular music.
  • Many offices in Sweden use a “flex system,” meaning that one can come and go earlier or later on any given day depending on their needs; if something comes up one day, leave early and make it up the next. Simple and just amazing.
  • All employees, including many students, get five weeks of paid vacation a year!
  • More than 75% of mothers are working – the highest rate in the world.
  • Sweden has more public holidays, called ‘red days,’ in the months of May and June than Americans do all year, and that’s not including the typical 5 weeks of personal vacation leave allowed.
  • Kl√§mdag – this is that ridiculous odd day of work in most other countries that falls between a weekend and a public holiday; many of Sweden’s employers just give these kinds of days off, as well.
  • 70% of Sweden’s workforce is unionized, making it one of the most unionized countries in the world.
  • Working parents are entitled to 480 days (16 months!) paid leave per child, and these parental leave days can be saved up and used whenever, until the child turns 8. Parents (both the mother and father) can share these days however they deem fit. Compensation for this time is 80% of normal working days.
  • There is paid paternal leave of two entire months.
  • When having second and subsequent children, free daycare is awarded to the others so that parents can concentrate time and resources of the newest member of the family.
  • Taxes are already calculated before payroll and are included in displayed prices when purchasing goods; at the end of the year, the Swedish government may just send out a quick summary of your tax situation, and if it looks good, you simply agree.
  • Swedes can report their annual taxes by SMS/text messages!
  • Swedish citizens have no university tuition.
  • Sweden is the most generous country at giving foreign aid per GDP, and the only nation that gives more than 1% of its GDP.
  • Fourteen days of paid sick leave is standard, and these can be used during a vacation, as well; compensation for this time is usually 80% of normal working days.
  • According to OECD statistics, Sweden spends more of its GDP on social services than any other country in the world.
  • All Swedish residents have access to subsidized health and dental care.
  • All education for Swedish residents is tax-financed from the age of six.
  • Fika – a socialized coffee (usually) break along with something sweet on the side.
  • Sweden was ranked third in the world for the inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (HDI) defined by the United Nations Development Programme over the last three years.
  • Swedes have one of the highest life-expectancy rates in the world, currently at about 81 years.
  • All elderly people are guaranteed to receive a basic pension.
  • Sweden is the number one exporter of music per GDP.
  • Sweden has the tightest employment gender gap in the world, with only about 4% more men in employment than women.
  • A 2007 UNICEF report on child well-being ranked Sweden as the best country in three categories: material well-being, health & safety, and behaviors & risks.
  • Daycare costs are based on family income and have a government-regulated ceiling.
  • Swedes spend the most time in tertiary education, with 40% of women and 32% of men aged 25 – 64 participating in education or training.
  • Purchased products are guaranteed for one year by the retailer, including clothing and many services.
  • Allemansr√§tten allows any Swede to camp or hike through property, whether public or private.
  • Sweden was the first country in Europe to set up a national park, back in 1909.

 

Christian "Krzysiek" Eilers is a twenty-something who constantly likes to look up the next flight out of JFK. His life goal is to visit every country in the world; as a young adult working full-time, he often settles on visiting the near countries of Central and South America and the Caribbean, knocking these off the list as it is less of a financial strain than Europe or Asia. Caffeine is his vice, and if he doesn't have a coffee in his hands, then it's probably a green tea. A native of New York City, when he is not traveling, he can find an abundance of cultural influences right in his own city, enough to keep him satisfied until the next country's beckon cannot be ignored any longer.

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