If you are into comparative public policy, the latest edition of the Nordic Statistical Yearbook is an absolute must – the printed publication is available for free as a pdf-document with Swedish and English text. (You’ll have to splash out something like 350 SEK + postage for the edition with the CD-ROM). The bad news is that there is some lag in the publication of figures.
Some quick notes: The Swedes are a curious people – on the one hand they are much healthier than the Danes, and when it comes to cancer treatment, the Danish performance is outright pathetic. (Table 32, page 86)
But on the other hand, Sweden has a long-standing tradition for high levels of illness-related absence from work – in 2005 1,8 per cent of the Danish workforce were on sick-leave at any given time, the Swedish figure was 3,6 per cent. (Table 48, page 109).
These data are on the national level, but Swedish statisticians and policy makers have for a long time noted some interesting variations on the regional level which have begged the question about what the real forces behind these relatively high figures are – it is likely that the social insurance systems (sickness versus unemployment benefits, rehabilitation measures) interact in a problematic way and that administrative systems also play a role.
And this, of cause, brings us to the recent discussion about the introduction of national guidelines for sickness benefits in Sweden.