The 7 billionth citizen of the world is not Swedish

In the Phillipines, a little baby was born. But Danica Camacho isn’t any ordinary baby.

This innocent child has become a symbol for what Swedish Professor in World Health Hans Rosling is calling ‘the beginning of the end’. Although impossible to accurately calculate, Danico has symbolically been labelled the 7 000 000 000th citizen of Earth. Today, 31 October 2011, the population of the planet has broken the 7 billion threshold.

Why does Hans Rosling call it the ‘beginning of the end’? According to him, the number of births in the world is decreasing. And with an aging population, it’s only a question of time before the imbalance in generations becomes unsustainable.

And how does this relate to Sweden?

Although an aging population might be a problem in Sweden itself, overpopulation hardly is. According to the UN World Prospects Report, Sweden is one of the countries in the world that has the lowest number of citizens per square kilometer. Sweden has 21 citizens per square kilometer, on average. Compare that to the 18,534 citizens per square kilometer in China, or 16,923 in Monaco. The country with the most space is, as you might guess, Greenland, with 0,026 people per square kilometer. This is closely followed by the remote Falkland Islands and then Mongolia.

These statistics are naturally an avergae of the whole country, and most populations are intensified around their major cities. The most densely populated city is where little Danica Camacho was born today – the Phillipine capital of Manila where staggering 43,079 people occupy one square kilometer. In Europe, the most dense city is the rather obscure French town of Levellois-Perret. Here, 26,126 people squeeze together in one kilometer. And Stockholm’s population density? A measly 3597 people per kilometer.

So next time I’m on the underground and somebody complains about the number of people, or sitting on a bus, they whinge about the annoying amount of traffic, you know what I’m going to say?

‘Try living in Manila, then you’ll really have something to complain about.’

Happy Leaders’ Conference

I participated in a very interesting conference today.

Arranged by the newspaper ‘Chef’, the conference gathered 200 managers from around Sweden at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm. The aim of the day was to listen to interesting and inspiring leaders and the day did in fact offer a variety of people and opinions.

SKF’s CEO Tom Johnstone talked about the importance of accessibility. Marie Louise Ekman, head of the Royal Dramatic Theatre stressed the skill of creativity. And Jens Henriksson, Managing Director of Stockholm Stock Exchange emphasised loyalty.

But perhaps the most provocative and ‘news-worthy’ guest was the leader of the major political oppposition party Håkan Juholt. Currently in hot water due to scandal around fraudulent housing benefits, everyone listened to Håkan with bated breath. What would he say about the scandals? Would he announce his resignation?

The theme of the conference was ‘Happy and a Manager – yes, it’s possible’ and Håkan Juholt reinforced several times that, despite his current situation, he is happy. So no juicy gossip and no resígnation. Just the usual political rhetoric.

As I sat and listened to the guests talking about what makes them happy as bosses, I was struck by the Swedishness of the entire theme. Would you find the same theme at a conference in Nigeria or in Russia? Probably not. In many other countries, the focus of leadership rests on efficiency or productivity or results. Of course, it does in Sweden too, but here we also have the luxury to reflect over our happiness also. We don’t have to worry so much about where the next meal is coming from or if our job is secure or our health insurance is enough. We’ve solved many of the issues of survival and can focus our energies on something else. Ourselves. And how we feel.

But does the opportunity to reflect over our happiness actually make us any happier?

Now that’s worth thinking about.