Yesterday, Sweden’s population crossed the 10 million threshold, making it the first Nordic country to do so. This unprecedented growth will escalate rapidly during the next ten years. Eleven million will be reached in 2024, the fastest 1 million growth in history.
According to Niklas Magnusson at Bloomberg, there are 2 main reasons:
Firstly, record-level net migration is contributing to population growth. 2015 saw 163 000 asylum seekers enter Sweden, mainly from war-torn countries. The inflow represented a more than 1.5 percent increase of the Swedish population overnight. Migration will continue to be the main driver of population growth over the coming decades, however at a slowing pace.
Secondly, Sweden’s fertility rate is among the highest in the EU. Sweden’s fertility rate is almost 1.9 births per woman. Compared with Germany’s 1.47, or Italy’s 1.37, the Swedish economy is going to be able to counter an aging population better than many other Western countries. The other Nordic countries have fertility rates of 1.7 – 1.75. The “baby boom” has been helped by a generous welfare state of infant care, and parental benefits. In addition to this, Sweden’s strong economy has weathered a global recession.
‘The booming population is good news for future economic growth prospects and tax revenue. It may also lead to more investments in infrastructure and the public sectors’, according to Anna Breman, a chief economist at Swedbank, writes Bloomberg.
So from many perspectives, the population growth is positive. However, a big challenge for Sweden will be to integrate migrants into the work force both economically and socially, and provide them with appropriate education and jobs. On top of this, the housing shortage in big cities is becoming ever more critical.
As the population swells, where will people live, how will they be supported with education and healthcare and how will they contribute to society are three of the biggest political issues facing Sweden’s governing party in the coming years.