Reduce inequality within and among countries.
The disposable income of households in Sweden has increased over many years, even calculated in fixed prices. At the same time, economic differences and disparities between different groups in society have increased. The gaps between different geographical areas of the country have been growing for a long time. The increasing income distribution over the past 20 years is due to the fact that the growth rate for the 40 per cent of the population with the lowest income has long been lower than both the average and the median for the entire population, while the growth rate for the 40 per cent with the highest income has been above the average.
The proportions of the population living on an income less than 50 per cent of the median income is greatest for younger ages and among those older than 80. The difference between men and women is greatest among those aged over 80, where a greater proportion of women has a low income. In its 2017 budget bill, the Government stated that an action plan will be produced so as to gradually, before 2030, achieve and maintain a higher income growth than the national average for the 40 per cent of the population with the lowest income. Among people with disabilities, 28 per cent lack a cash margin, that is the margin for unforeseen expenses, and of those with activity compensation and/or disability allowance, 35 per cent live in relative poverty.
Sweden has legislation to counter discrimination and to support national minorities. Legal protection to promote equal rights and opportunities and to counteract discrimination has been strengthened in recent years. In addition to this, national strategies to ensure equal rights and opportunities have been produced for, inter alia, disability policy, LGBT persons, Roma inclusion and for racism, similar forms of hostility and hate crimes. An overarching strategy has also been produced for the national work on human rights.
The exact extent of discrimination in Sweden is not known. Perceived discrimination differs from the occurrence of discrimination in the legal sense. In the discrimination complaints submitted to the Equality Ombudsman, the most common ground of discrimination is ethnicity, followed by disability, age, gender, and religion or other belief. The proportion of the entire population that has been subjected to some kind of offensive treatment has decreased somewhat since 2004. In the latest reported period 2013-2016, it was more common for women (24 per cent) to be subjected to offensive treatment than men (15 per cent).
In recent years, migration policy and the refugee situation have been high on the agenda in Sweden and globally. In 2015, Sweden received 163 000 asylum seekers and in 2016 around 30 000 persons. For many years, Sweden has been a driving force for better international cooperation on migration and worked actively for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to be incorporated into the UN. This is seen as an important part of the work to create conditions for an effective migration policy.
In July 2016, the Government presented a long-term reform programme for reduced segregation in 2017-2025. This programme focuses on a number of areas including housing, schooling, societal service and jobs, in order to safeguard the Swedish model as a cohesive society. In March 2017, the Government appointed an inquiry chair to prepare and form a new national authority to counteract segregation.
Socio-economic factors also affect participation in culture. The Government has implemented several initiatives for promoting broad access to culture and for the common cultural heritage to become a matter for everyone. These include investments in reading promotion and an investment in culture and music schools. The transaction costs for remittances, that is transfers of funds (as a percentage of the transferred amount) from individuals in Sweden to recipients in different parts of the world are high in some cases and need to become lower. In order to reduce these costs, the Swedish Consumer Agency has established a free price comparison service, Money from Sweden, which allows simple comparison of costs and transfer times.
Sweden wants low and middle-income countries to be given greater influence in international economic and financial institutions in line with their growing role in the global economy. For example, in order to make way for developing countries, Sweden and other European countries have reduced their voting power in the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Sweden continues to face a number of important challenges as regards reducing inequality, both financially and in other areas, such as health, work and housing. Discrimination in the everyday life of various groups in society – such as people with disabilities, LGBT persons, the Sami, Roma, newly arrived immigrants – needs to be counteracted and prevented in continuous work characterised by the fundamental values of the equal dignity of all, equality, and gender equality.
The main goal of Swedish development cooperation is to create the circumstances for better living conditions for those living in poverty and oppression. The Government starts from a multidimensional view of poverty that not only focuses on people’s lack of material assets, but also on the lack of power and influence over their own situation, choices, security and respect for human rights. The total Swedish development cooperation encompassed USD 4.9 billion in 2015.