More Bureaucrats Serve Fewer Workers in Sweden, Says Report

By Barbara Gay
Barbara Gay
Barbara Gay
December 28, 2009 Updated: December 28, 2009

GOTHENBURG, Sweden—Money set aside for education and health care between 2001 and 2007 ended up financing three times as many bureaucrats as actual workers in these fields, according to a recent study by the Swedish liberal think tank Timbro.

Revenue to these government departments grew by 30 percent, more than Sweden's economic growth. It led to a creep in administrative staff of 29 percent, while the number of employees in health care and education grew only by 9 percent.

There is supposed to be natural a correlation between the number of staff administering health care and education and the population of seniors and children available to receive those services; Timbro says, however, that there is no correlation between population development and the number of regional bureaucrats.

"The conclusion of this study is that there is no guarantee that further resources to the regional management actually results in more employees in these areas, which has been the main argument for demanding more government grants," said Thomas Idergard of Timbro in a press statement.

Local governments have offset the decreased need for teachers and health workers by hiring more administrators in order to maintain their overall level of employment, the report argues.

In all counties in Sweden, the number of bureaucrats has grown at a faster rate than workers' welfare, with significant regional differences, the report says. In one county the workforce in health care and education has decreased while the number of administrators has actually increased.

In 2010 some 1.7 billion euros in extra support will go to care and education. Idergard feels that the state should make specific rules about how the regional governments use this money, and demand accountability. If certain goals are not met, the funds should be repaid, he said.

"This study … shows the remarkable situation where the government and Parliament actually help create more expenses on the regional level, but make no demands whatsoever as to how these funds are used. The result is a continuation of the rapid growth of bureaucrats we have seen the past decade," he said.

Barbara Gay