For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.
Despite Sweden's exposure to global trade dynamics, Covid-19 has had a rather limited impact on its economy compared with most other European countries. GDP returned to its pre-pandemic level in 2021, and continued growing in 2022: the IMF estimated a 2.6% increase in GDP, supported by private consumption and investment. However, the net contribution of foreign trade was negative due to high import growth, and the economy slowed down towards the end of the year. For 2023, pressure on private domestic demand due to higher input costs, consumer prices and interest rates, as well as a tighter monetary policy (variable interest rates on mortgages are widespread) will weigh heavily on growth, with the economy expected to enter a recession (-0.1% as per the IMF forecast, -0.6% according to the EU Commission). The improvement in global economic conditions and slower inflation should contribute to a rebound in 2024 (+2.1%).
Sweden is among the few advanced European economies to show both a current account surplus and low public debt. Despite the phasing out of COVID-19 support measures, new aid packages were implemented to contrast high energy prices and the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, resulting in a government budget deficit of 0.3% of GDP. However, the general government balance is expected to return into positive territory this year (0.1% of GDP) and in 2024 (1.1% - IMF) thanks to improved tax revenues. The country’s debt-to-GDP ratio is among the lowest in the EU and was estimated at 33.5% in 2022. It is assumed to follow a downward path over the forecast horizon, at 31.2% in 2023 and 28.8% the following year. A sharp increase in imported commodities and in energy prices contributed to a record-high inflation rate of 7.2% in 2022 and forced the Riksbank to accelerate interest rate rises. Due to the delayed pass-through of the weakening in the krona exchange rate, inflation is expected to remain high this year (around 6.6%) before decelerating more consistently in 2024 (1.8% - EU Commission).
The country’s unemployment rate – at 7.6% in 2022 – returned to its pre-pandemic levels. Despite labour shortages in a wide range of sectors and the expected economic slowdown, the IMF sees the unemployment rate decreasing marginally in 2023 and 2024 (7.4% and 7.3%, respectively). Overall, Swedish citizens enjoy a high per capita GDP of USD 63,877 (PPP – 2022), 18.3% higher than the EU’s average (USD 53,960), and the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) estimates that only 2% of Sweden’s population lives in serious material poverty conditions. Nominal wage growth, however, has been lagging behind inflation, resulting in a reduction of households’ real disposable income.
|Main Indicators||2020||2021||2022 (E)||2023 (E)||2024 (E)|
|GDP (billions USD)||547.05||636.86||585.94||599.05||615.49|
|GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)||-2.2||5.4||2.6||-0.5||1.0|
|GDP per Capita (USD)||52,706||60,930||55,689||55,395||56,416|
|General Government Balance (in % of GDP)||-1.7||-0.3||0.1||0.4||0.3|
|General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP)||39.5||36.3||31.7||32.3||32.9|
|Inflation Rate (%)||0.7||2.7||8.1||6.8||2.3|
|Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force)||8.5||8.8||7.5||7.8||8.0|
|Current Account (billions USD)||32.20||41.46||24.95||23.21||24.01|
|Current Account (in % of GDP)||5.9||6.5||4.3||3.9||3.9|
Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, Latest data available.
Note : (E) Estimated data
Agriculture represents 1.3% of the Swedish GDP and employs around 2% of the workforce (World Bank, latest data available). The main agricultural products are grains (particularly oats, wheat, barley, and rye), potatoes and other root crops, vegetables, and fruits, as well as dairy products, meat and wood. While production exceeds domestic consumption, a significant amount of food needs to be imported due to a lack of crop variety. Sweden has a wealth of natural resources: forests, iron, lead, copper, zinc and hydroelectric energy. The country has 3 million hectares of agricultural area and almost 28 million hectares of forest area (FAO), with a total of 58,218 agricultural holdings (data Swedish Board of Agriculture - 2022).
The industrial sector contributes 22.6% of GDP and employs 18% of the workforce. It is dominated by groups such as Volvo, Saab, Ericsson, ABB, AstraZeneca, Electrolux, Ikea, H&M, etc. Sweden's main manufacturing activities are steel, automotive, chemical, forestry, industrial machinery and equipment, automation and food processing equipment. The World Bank estimates that the manufacturing sector alone accounts for 13% of GDP. The new technologies and biotechnologies sectors are also of significant importance in the economy.
The tertiary sector, driven by telecommunications and IT equipment, employs 80% of the active workforce and contributes 64.8% of GDP. The banking sector is comprised of a total of 121 banks, including 41 commercial banks, 33 foreign banks, 45 savings banks and two cooperative banks; moreover, it employs around 2% of the workforce, accounts for 4.5% of GDP and contributes to 10% of the corporate taxes revenue (European Banking Federation). The travel and tourism industry is also important to the Swedish economy: according to the latest data from Visitory, between January-October 2022 registered accommodation sales reached SEK 32.2 billion, marking an increase of EUR 17.3 billion from the previous year, with the country receiving almost 6 million arrivals from foreign tourists (+21.1% year-on-year).
|Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector||Agriculture||Industry||Services|
|Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment)||1.7||18.4||79.9|
|Value Added (in % of GDP)||1.3||22.6||64.8|
|Value Added (Annual % Change)||3.2||5.7||4.8|
Source: World Bank, Latest data available.
Find more information about your business sector on our service Market Reports.
The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.
The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.
A party must gain 4% of the national vote or 12% of a constituency vote to enter the single-chamber parliament. Coalitions and minority governments are widespread. Social Democratic Party and Moderate Party are the largest parties in the parliament.
The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).
The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.
Any Comment About This Content? Report It to Us.
© eexpand, All Rights Reserved.
Latest Update: September 2023