Swedish Welfare

Social welfare in Sweden is made up of several organizations and systems dealing with welfare. It is mostly funded by taxes, and executed by the public sector on all levels of government as well as private organisations. It can be separated into three parts falling under three different ministries; social welfare, falling under the responsibility of Ministry of Health and Social Affairs; education, under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Research and labour market, under the responsibility of Ministry of Employment.[1]


The start of the Swedish welfare system was the poor relief organized by the church. This became obligatory in 1734 when each parish was required to have an almshouse.[2] During the 19th century private sick benefit societies were started, and in 1891 these became regulated and subsidized.[3] The Liberal Party government passed the National Pension Act in 1913 to provide security for the aged [4] and in 1934 the private unemployment societies were regulated and subsidized in a way similar to the sick benefit societies.

In 1961 the private sick benefit societies were replaced with county-level public insurance societies who also handled pensions. The independent and mostly union-run unemployment benefit societies has been more centrally regulated and levels are now regulated by the government.[5]

Social welfare

The Ministry of Health and Social Affairs is responsible for welfare. This is defined as financial security in the case of illness, old age and for the family; social services; health care; promotion of health and children's rights; individual help for persons with disabilities and coordination of the national disability policies.[6]

Health care

Main article: Healthcare in Sweden

Sweden's entire population has equal access to the public health care services. The Swedish health care system is publicly funded and run by the county councils. The health care system in Sweden is financed primarily through taxes levied by county councils and municipalities. The health care providers of the public system are generally owned by the county councils, although the managing of the hospitals is often done by private companies after a public tender. During the last decade several county councils have started using a Fee-for-service system for primary health care under the name "VårdVal".

Dental care is not quite as subsidized as other health care, and the dentists decide on their own treatment prices.[7]

Elderly care

Elderly care in Sweden is the responsibility of the local municipalities. There are both retirement homes as well as home care, with home care on the rise.

Social security

Main article: Social Security in Sweden

The Swedish social security is mainly handled by the Swedish Social Insurance Agency and encompasses many separate benefits.[8] The major ones are:

  • "Barnbidrag" and "Föräldrapenning": Monetary support for children up to 16, and benefits to be able to be home from work to take care of their children for up to 480 days per child. It also includes special benefits to care about sick and disabled children.
  • "Bostadsbidrag": Housing allowances for anyone who otherwise can't afford housing.
  • "Sjukpenning", "Sjukersättning" and "Handikappersättning": Benefits if you are ill or disabled and can't work.
  • "Ålderspension", "Garantipension": Benefits for those who have retired.
  • "Försörjningsstöd": Benefits for anyone (incl their children) who otherwise can't get a reasonable standard of living. This is given out purely on a need-bases and handled by each municipality's social service.[9]


Main article: Education in Sweden

Education is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Research. Education responsibilities includes pre-school and child care for school children as well as adult education.[10]

Labour market

The labour market policies fall under the responsibilities of the Ministry of Employment. The responsibilities considered to be a part of the welfare system includes unemployment benefits, activation benefits, employment services, employment programs, job and development guarantees, starter jobs, and the European Social Fund.

See also



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