Sweden, a Scandinavian nation known for its generous welfare system and abundant green energy resources, is grappling with a poverty problem as food and energy prices rise across Europe, according to a new report.
“Sweden also has a poverty problem,” a report in the Guardian quoted Johan Rindevall, director of Matmissionen, a chain of social supermarkets in the country that sells food to its registered members with a monthly income of less than SEK 11,200 (880) in salary or benefits at rock-bottom prices.
“We might not talk about it a lot, but it’s there — and it’s definitely gotten worse this year,” Rindevall noted, adding that the number of registered supermarket members has more than doubled since January, surpassing 14,700 by the end of October.
Despite an abundance of green energy, with over 75 percent of its electricity coming from hydro, nuclear and wind power, Sweden has not escaped the global energy price impact of the war in Ukraine, with electricity bills doubling in some cases and hitting household incomes.
“Inflation at these rates means we’re seeing many, many more people than ever before. Some have started coming in saying they don’t qualify for membership, but they can’t afford to buy the food they need elsewhere,” he said .
The gap between rich and poor in Sweden has widened as the country’s welfare system has been steadily cut in recent years, making more people vulnerable to inflation, which has averaged around 8 percent this fall.
According to the Guardian report, over 14 percent of the country’s population is estimated to be in relative poverty, defined as living on 60 percent or less of the median income this year.