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Nominated and elected candidates, 2018

Clear differences in income between elected representatives and the electorate

Statistical news from Statistics Sweden 2020-03-20 9.30

Elected politicians have higher income and post-secondary education to a greater extent than the population at large. It has become somewhat more common for elected representatives to have been born in a country other than Sweden in the 2000s, but the increase among the population has been faster. Young and old people have poorer representation among elected representatives.

Statistics Sweden is now publishing its “Elected representatives” report. The report consists of a review of social representativeness in Sweden’s elected political bodies – the Riksdag (parliament), regional assemblies and municipal councils. In the report, the size of different groups among Sweden’s elected politicians is compared with corresponding groups in the electorate.

All political bodies have a balanced gender distribution on the whole. “Balanced gender distribution” means that the proportion of men and women is within the 40–60 percent range. Gender distribution is most balanced among members of regional assemblies, with 48 percent women and 52 percent men after the 2018 election. It is least balanced in municipal councils, with 43 percent women and 57 percent men.

Irrespective of the political body studied, it is more common for elected representatives to have higher income and post-secondary education to a greater extent than the electorate at large. These differences are most obvious in the Riksdag, and least so in municipal councils. Education level is generally higher among women, while at the same time men have consistently higher income. The differences between the sexes exists both in the electorate and among politicians.

Since 2002, the average age of members of the Riksdag and regional assemblies has decreased, while it has increased in municipal councils. Over the same period, the average age of the entire electorate has increased somewhat. It is consistently young people – the under-30s, and the over-65s, who have poorer representation among politicians, apart from in municipal councils, where the share of people aged 65 and over is now on a par with the electorate.

The proportion of people born abroad has risen somewhat at all political levels throughout the 2000s, but the increase in the population has been faster over the same period. Among politicians born abroad, a higher share have lived in Sweden for 20 years or more compared with foreign born people in the population. It is also more common for politicians born abroad to come from a European country than a non-European one, compared with people born abroad in the electorate.

In terms of politicians’ family situation, it is somewhat more common for them to be in a relationship compared with the equivalent share in the population. It is also more common for politicians to have a child under the age of 18 living at home compared with the population at large.

Analyses are also performed in the report using logistic regressions to study several different breakdown criteria simultaneously. The results of the analyses show that higher income is key in the composition of elected politicians in Sweden in relation to the population at large. The results indicate that many of the groups with poorer representation among politicians also have lower income compared with more well-represented groups, when we study the situation among people in the electorate. However, we also see that elected representatives who belong to these less well-represented groups have higher income compared with the groups in the population at large. The effect of income is, in this respect, greater than the effect of education, for example.

Definitions and explanations

The statistics in the report are based on Statistics Sweden’s statistics on nominated and elected candidates, and corresponding statistics on the electorate, with statistics regarding the 2018 election published in the spring of 2019.

Elected politicians are those who were voted in at the time of the election concerned, and no account is thus taken of any resignations or replacements during the term of office.


A more detailed report of this survey is published in the Publication:

Elected representatives (pdf)

Feel free to use the facts from this statistical news but remember to state Source: Statistics Sweden.

Statistical agency and producer

Statistics Sweden, Democracy Statistics

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Regina Vilkénas

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