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Number of full-year persons receiving social assistance and benefits 2018

Number of persons receiving economic support decreased

Statistical news from Statistics Sweden 2020-03-27 9.30

The number of full-year persons receiving economic support in the form of social assistance or benefits decreased by 4.3 percent in 2019. The total number in 2019 was 741 979 persons, which corresponds to 12.7 percent of the population. There are large differences between different parts of the country. The proportion was lowest in commuting municipalities near large cities, at 9.5 percent, and highest in rural municipalities, at 16.1 percent.

Benefit systems are measured in full-year persons, or full-year equivalents. This allows for comparability between different types of benefits. The term ‘full-year equivalent’ refers to the number of individuals who can be supported during an entire year on full benefits. For example, two persons who have both been unemployed full-time for six months amount to one full-year equivalent.

Statistics Sweden annually reports statistics on the number of full-year persons aged 20–64 who receive economic support in the form of social assistance or benefits, such as sickness benefits, sickness or activity compensation, unemployment benefits, economic aid and introduction benefit.

Development of the number of full-year equivalents aged 20–64 who are supported by social assistance or benefits 1990–2019


The number of full-time equivalents rose sharply in the early 1990s; between 1990 and 1994, the number rose by almost 60 percent, but has steadily decreased since then. In 2019, the number had declined to almost the same level as in 1990. Between 2018 and 2019, the number decreased in all compensation forms except in unemployment benefits, where it increased by 11.2 percent.

Full-year persons with sickness or activity compensation, who account for about 32 percent of the total number of full-year persons, have decreased in number since 2006. In 2019, this number decreased by 5.9 percent and has thus decreased by 47.9 percent since 2006.

Since 2010, the number of full-year persons with sickness benefits increased steadily. This trend was broken in 2017, and in 2019 the number decreased for the third year in a row.

Introduction benefit was introduced in 2011 and the number increased sharply until 2017. However, in the last two years the number has decreased sharply, by 31 percent in 2019.

Major regional differences

The number of full-year persons differs in different parts of the country. In a grouping of municipalities by size and location, on average, the proportion was lowest in commuting municipalities near large cities, at 9.5 percent, and highest in rural municipalities, at 16.1 percent.

Percent of full-year persons by group of municipalities
Municipality groupPercent
Commuting municipalities near large cities 9.5
Large cities 11.5
Rural municipalities with a visitor industry 11.8
Medium-sized towns 13.2
Commuting municipalities near medium-sized towns 13.7
Small towns 13.7
Commuting municipalities with a low commuting rate near medium-sized towns 15.6
Commuting municipalities near small towns 15.9
Rural municipalities 16.1

In 2019, the proportion decreased in all municipality groups; it decreased the most in rural municipalities and the least in commuting municipalities near large cities.

More women than men

Among the full-year equivalents, 54.3 percent were women and 45.7 percent were men. Women are in the majority with regard to sickness benefit, while the gender distribution is relatively even in the other forms of compensation.

Gender distribution in each form of compensation
  Women Men Total
Sickness benefits 64.3 35.7 100.0
Sickness or activity compensation 56.2 43.8 100.0
Unemployment benefits 45.4 54.6 100.0
Labour market programmes 47.0 53.0 100.0
Economic aid 51.6 48.4 100.0
Introduction benefit 56.4 43.6 100.0
Total 54.3 45.7 100.0

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

Statistical agency and producer

Statistics Sweden, Public Finance and Microsimulations Unit

701 89 Örebro


Nina Grönborg

+46 10 479 68 41

Annica Wallerå

+46 10 479 62 38