Monday, November 26, 2007

Sweden is Glorious (Social Issues in Stockholm)

Sweden is an amazing country. On Friday, in a couple of the free newspapers that are handed out in just about every corner of the public transportation system in Stockholm, there were two different articles that mentioned some amazing Swedish statistics. First, the Swedes are working to cut homelessness in half in Stockholm. The second had to do with teen pregnancy. Both these issues were given press time, and for good reason. Both are important issues that should be put out there for the public.

But the reason Sweden is a glorious country is because Swedes think these issues are a big enough problem that the homelessness actually makes the front page of a newspaper. Granted a free one, but still. Before someone posts an anonymous comment about me not having good sources or not being able to speak for all of Sweden. I know. It’s a free newspaper. And I’m giving an opinion.

Homelessness is a problem, all over the world, but everything is relative. And having only 433 people without a roof over their heads, however deplorable, is not a huge problem. But like I said, Sweden is amazing because they are appalled enough to put a lot of money into it to make it even less of a problem. And as much as I comment on things like jail time in Sweden, they do some good work when it comes to certain social issues. Homelessness is clearly one of them! The benefits of the Swedish welfare state do make an appearance every now and again. The beauty of the Swedish model.

Sweden is planning on halving the homeless in Stockholm. The idea is to put a whole lot of money into helping people who are out on the streets. And here is where the amazing statistics come into play. There are 3200 homeless people in Stockholm. This includes those who are living in shelters and have some sort of roof over their head. So 433 people in Stockholm are actually, literally, homeless, with nowhere to go. Four hundred and thirty three. That’s it. That is amazing to me. Stockholm is a big city. And that’s it.

The goal is to get that number down to about 200 some people. Which is wonderful. But I’m still amazed that there are only 433 people in Stockholm that don’t have a roof over their heads. Which is why Sweden is an amazing country. I make some snide remarks about the government in this country, but they manage to do some things well. And it seems that all that tax money they take in, at least some of it is used to do some amazing things. Because I have a hard time imagining to many other big cities have such a small number of homeless people.

The next important issue was teenage pregnancy. Again some amazing statistics were published in the paper. In the year 2006, there were 1,236 teen age mothers. Yup. And that is all of Sweden. In a country of 9 million. Just over a thousand teenage mothers. Now from my understanding this only counts mothers who went through with the pregnancy. And abortion is pretty well accepted here, so I’m sure there were a few more than the 1,236. But it couldn’t have been that many more.

I’m sure this has to do with Swedes being much more open about different forms of birth control and just sex in general. Abstinence isn’t the only way in Sweden. This might have to do with the government, or it might have to do with Sweden being a very secular country and not putting as much weight into religious doctrine as other countries. Whatever the reason, they do good work. Just another reason Sweden is an amazing country.


  1. Do I smell irony? Do you mean that we should skip the homeless and the young mothers and aim for "more important" things?
    It has to be more than 1.236 teenage mothers though.. I mean, I know at least 3 of them :)

  2. Actually, I was being very serious here. I think it's great that there are so few. It's just that the numbers are so small that it is completely foreign to me. No irony intended.

    And about the teenage mothers, those numbers seemed really small to me too... but I don't know any Swedish teenage mothers.

  3. Actually, when I think about it, two of the young mothers that I know are not swedish, and they were all 18 when pregnant. Interesting, how come there are so few when sex is so accepeble?

  4. I think that with the acceptance of sex comes an acceptance of prevention also. So varying forms of birth control are readily available as well as promoted. This moves away from the idea that abstinence is the only way to avoid pregnancy and opens up a conversation regarding sex and pregnancy. With this comes a more informed public, which includes all those teenagers who start having sex.

  5. "In the year 2006, there were 1,236 teen age mothers. Yup. And that is all of Sweden. In a country of 9 million."

    Yeah but there isn't 9 million teeage girls

  6. Very true. The point however was only to demonstrate what low numbers Sweden is dealing with.

  7. It's funny you mention abstinence as being not the only way of avoiding teen pregnancies. I would say that abstinence is not preached at all!
    It's comdom! comdom! condom!

    Every school class are handed free condoms at the age of 15 or something. I was anyway.

    It's good though.

    P.S Sorry for writing years after the fact.

  8. I definitely did not get a condom in school at the age of 15. but we did get birth control talks in school so we didnt just go with the abstinence only.

    and no worries at all. I love the old comments!