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Men still earn more than women in Sweden – but the income gap is shrinking

Men are still earning far more than women in Sweden – but the income gap is slowly shrinking.

Men still earn more than women in Sweden – but the income gap is shrinking
Are these office workers perhaps talking about the gender pay gap? Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Last year the median earned income for women was 77 percent of men's median income, a slight increase from a 72 percent share in 1999, according to national numbers office Statistics Sweden.

This is because women's incomes have been rising at a faster rate than that of men in the past couple of decades, with women's incomes gaining on men's incomes in 268 out of 290 municipalities.

The towns that have seen the reverse effect are usually places that have either experienced a booming economy in a male-dominated industry, such as northern Swedish mining hubs Kiruna and Gällivare, or places where the overall income level is low which affects women the hardest, such as Stockholm suburbs.

READ ALSO: High earners and men are the winners of Sweden's new budget

On the opposite end of the scale, women's incomes saw the biggest gain on men's incomes in Bjurholm, west of Umeå in northern Sweden, where they increased by 44 percent, compared with 25 percent for men's incomes.

The Statistics Sweden report did not say why Bjurholm saw such an increase, but noted when contacted by The Local that it is Sweden's smallest municipalities, so it is possible it may be more affected by minor changes such as one large company suddenly employing more women than before.

READ ALSO: These graphs show exactly how much men and women earn across Sweden

Women had an annual median income of 251,113 kronor ($25,472) last year, according to preliminary statistics, while men earned 327,875 kronor.

Here's a list of the Swedish municipalities with the largest median value increase in earned income in 2000-2018 (source: Statistics Sweden):

Women

Lomma: 55 percent

Härryda: 53 percent

Tjörn: 53 percent

Ydre: 52 percent

Öckerö: 52 percent

Aneby: 52 percent

Varberg: 52 percent

Hammarö: 51 percent

Lekeberg: 50 percent

Kungsbacka: 50 percent

Men

Solna: 47 percent

Gällivare: 47 percent

Kiruna: 44 percent

Vaxholm: 44 percent

Varberg: 43 percent

Lomma: 42 percent

Lekeberg: 41 percent

Kungsbacka: 41 percent

Krokom: 41 percent

Stenungsund: 40 percent

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MONEY

Your January budget: Five ways to save money in Sweden this month

It's the start of the year and the end of the indulgence of the holiday season. Here's how to try to claw back some space in your wallet in Sweden.

Your January budget: Five ways to save money in Sweden this month

Take inventory of your bills

The start of the year is a good time to go through your regular bills and see if there’s a way you can save money there. Don’t forget to check your direct debit (autogiro) payments to see if you’re paying money for subscriptions you no longer use. Here are some more tips for reducing your regular bills.

Buy seasonal food

Seasonal produce is usually cheaper – and better for the environment.

Things to look for in Swedish grocery stores in January include: Green kale, Brussels sprouts (added bonus: they’re usually priced down after Christmas), turnips, carrots, swedes, red beets, red cabbage, white cabbage, artichokes, onions and apples. These are grown in Sweden and can be bought fresh this time of the year.

Aubergine, oranges and lemons, kiwi, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower and fennel are in season in other parts of Europe.

Get a cheaper deal on your electricity

Electricity prices soared to record levels in Sweden last year, and they’re expected to remain high in 2023 too.

Compare the prices of various electricity companies at price comparison sites, such as Elskling, and don’t be scared of calling your company to negotiate.

Swedish houses are generally well insulated, so in the shorter term, save money by turning your heating down just slightly, making sure your dishwasher and washing machine are full before turning them on, and having shorter showers. Here’s The Local’s guide to how to dress to keep warm in the Swedish winter.

The cost of electricity depends on your living situation. Electricity tends to be the most expensive in southern Sweden, and your bills are likely higher if you own a house rather than an apartment. If you’re staying in a sublet or an apartment housing association, it is possible that the cost is included in your monthly rent, or avgift, if you own your property.

Save money on your gym membership

Who hasn’t joined a gym the weeks after New Year’s Eve? The downside is they’re expensive, so the best way to save money is not to join a gym at all. Instead, look out for outdoor gyms (utegym – they look like a wooden playground) scattered across Swedish cities and free running and exercise groups in your area.

In January, you ask. Yes, in January. Even in the snow? Yes, then too.

Pavements are often kept clear of snow in Sweden and you will see people exercising come rain, snow or shine. Just remember to dress right (not too warm, but gloves and a hat are sensible) and invest in a good pair of ice studs for your running shoes – it’s a one-time cost that will pay off in the long run.

If you do want to go to the gym, it’s worth asking your job if they can pay for your membership as a friskvårdsbidrag (health contribution), a tax-exempt benefit that many employers offer in Sweden and means you can get money to put towards a sports activity of your choice (no more than 5,000 kronor per year).

Make the most of the end-of-year sales

The post-Christmas sale (mellandagsrean) might still be ongoing in some shops with prices dropping lower and lower. Have a think about what you need to buy for the year ahead in terms of things such as clothes, electronics or furniture, and then go online to see if you can find what you need at a reduced price. The key is to plan your purchase before you go shopping and not let yourself be tempted by things that seem great at the moment, but won’t be needed or wanted six months from now.

Off-season items are often the cheapest, so buy your summer clothes now, or even your winter boots for next year. Or better yet, don’t buy anything at all. Maybe it’s cheaper and more sustainable to fix things you’ve already got. There’s also a booming second-hand market in Sweden where you can grab a bargain.

Did you buy or receive Christmas presents that weren’t quite right? Know your right to return items. This guide by The Local explains the rules in Sweden.

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