Gunnar Andersson, Professor of Demography.
Gunnar Andersson, Professor of Demography.

- The latest population growth spurt comes from migration. However, the foundation for the increase is that, overall, we have a stable population structure with a sufficiently high number of babies born in Sweden. Migration is just the icing on the cake, says Gunnar Andersson, Professor of Demography at Stockholm University (SUDA).

Having a balanced population structure contributes to a balanced economy and social welfare system. In Europe today, the Nordics, France, Belgium, and to a lesser extent the Netherlands and Great Britain have balanced age structures. All of Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, and the German-speaking countries have very low fertility rates.

- There’s a real challenge with ageing combined with decreasing population numbers.

- The study of demography is particularly strong in Sweden, and that is largely attributable to having good population data. It goes back to 1749 when SCB was established by Census in Sweden (Tabellverket).

- Moreover, many of the so-called ‘family demographic trends’ began in the Nordic countries before spreading more widely. It means that there’s a particularly strong interest about what happens in the Nordics, he says.

For the demographers at Stockholm University, the 10-million mark is particularly great because it puts the spotlight on Swedish demography, demographic data, and demographic changes.

- Demography is very important because it goes along with other societal changes, how lives are organised, both economically and socially.

Swedish society is generally quicker to react to these demographic and social changes than many other countries. One example is when women started joining the paid workforce in increasing numbers in the 1960s and 70s, and the birth rate was low.

That’s when the ambitious family-political reforms started. And when it became clear that the population was ageing, the pension system was reformed. Other countries missed the opportunities to make changes, and 30-40 years later they’re saying ‘What are we going to do now?’

Will there be too many people in Sweden at this population growth rate?

- It’s hard to say because Sweden is incredibly sparsely populated. No one could ever say that we are overpopulated. That some people are afraid of other people is another question entirely, says Gunnar Andersson.

 

Translation from Swedish: Kimberly Michelle Parke

Text: Leila Zoubir