Sweden: Absenteeism 1990 – 2004


% of Cancer death by Swede Men above age 70

Most of the cancer death cases occurs among the swede men who aged 70 and above, compared to whole men population, which is around 70%. Meaning 7 out of 10 cancer death cases, they happen unto the men aged 70 and above…

% of cancer death of Swede Men above age 70

Sweden: Electricity Production Mode

Alternative Energy in Sweden

Sweden: Income comparison between Local and Foreign Born 2006

  20-64 years of age
All Women Men
Born in Sweden 239.5 212.3 272.0
Born abroad 181.6 167.7 200.4
0-2 years in Sweden 43.9 33.5 71.2
3-4 years in Sweden 73.0 48.4 121.4
5-9 years in Sweden 135.5 105.1 170.0
10-19 years in Sweden 180.9 169.5 196.0
20- years in Sweden 217.7 205.4 236.9
The Nordic Countries except Sweden 230.5 216.1 255.9
0-2 years in Sweden 106.9 89.9 131.9
3-4 years in Sweden 167.0 152.0 186.1
5-9 years in Sweden 210.4 197.1 233.3
10-19 years in Sweden 225.4 210.1 247.6
20- years in Sweden 236.2 221.2 263.1
EU15 except the Nordic countries 222.5 192.8 246.9
0-2 years in Sweden 160.5 90.1 203.2
3-4 years in Sweden 203.1 157.3 230.7
5-9 years in Sweden 220.9 174.4 251.8
10-19 years in Sweden 224.2 189.7 250.3
20- years in Sweden 231.4 209.2 252.8
Europe except EU15 and the Nordic countries 190.7 175.0 215.7
0-2 years in Sweden 83.2 49.0 154.2
3-4 years in Sweden 109.4 70.3 181.9
5-9 years in Sweden 168.1 139.3 207.3
10-19 years in Sweden 197.4 183.7 220.2
20- years in Sweden 213.3 203.1 231.6
Africa 143.9 114.9 166.1
0-2 years in Sweden 27.3 22.1 33.5
3-4 years in Sweden 49.6 33.7 83.4
5-9 years in Sweden 115.0 81.6 154.3
10-19 years in Sweden 171.3 152.6 182.9
20- years in Sweden 205.9 197.2 213.0
North America 192.1 170.3 215.6
0-2 years in Sweden 67.3 42.1 118.1
3-4 years in Sweden 100.1 51.1 174.5
5-9 years in Sweden 177.7 139.0 207.1
10-19 years in Sweden 201.7 185.1 219.4
20- years in Sweden 229.6 215.4 249.2
South America 182.5 169.0 200.0
0-2 years in Sweden 48.3 34.6 81.9
3-4 years in Sweden 107.5 69.5 152.6
5-9 years in Sweden 158.7 139.4 182.2
10-19 years in Sweden 188.5 177.6 205.6
20- years in Sweden 201.1 189.5 214.3
Asia 128.3 108.8 148.3
0-2 years in Sweden 20.0 20.0 20.1
3-4 years in Sweden 35.5 26.1 59.1
5-9 years in Sweden 80.5 53.7 111.6
10-19 years in Sweden 151.7 140.7 163.1
20- years in Sweden 179.6 168.6 191.4
Oceania 223.7 193.6 245.1
0-2 years in Sweden 141.8 121.2 147.8
3-4 years in Sweden 189.6 104.2 222.8
5-9 years in Sweden 234.9 178.9 261.8
10-19 years in Sweden 231.8 180.0 256.6
20- years in Sweden 252.8 224.4 276.0

Source: SCB, Sweden

MeThink: Broken Windows Theory

Read it on Reason and Economist recently. It is about the low-form delinquency like graffiti, littering or subway fare jumping can actually spread the disorder… Can’t help but thinking, based on personal experience anedoctally, it is true for the case in Japan and Singapore: both countries are almost free from graffiti and have extremely low crime rate! And speaking of graffiti and subway fare-jumping, it is not uncommon here in Stockholm…

Weekly Highlight: 12-11-2008


Highest immigration rate in 30 years

The number of immigrants coming to Denmark in the third quarter was the highest ever for the period.
A record 26,312 people were given legal residency in Denmark between July and September – the most since quarterly immigration statistics began being kept in 1980.
Polish immigrants were responsible for the majority of the figure as 2,585 came to the country during the third quarter, according to Statistics Denmark. The agency’s figures show that 540 Poles left the country during the period, resulting in a net increase in Denmark of 2,062 Polish nationals for the quarter.
The total number of Poles who have been given legal residency in Denmark since October 2007 has gone from around 13,000 to over 20,000 as of the most recent count.
Germans and Americans make up the second and third largest groups of immigrants to Denmark during the third quarter of 2008, with figures showing net increases of 1,041 and 975, respectively. (rc)


Immigrants’ Skills Too Often Unused
Published 10.11.2008, 11.31

Finland has thousands of skilled immigrants who are looking for a job. Recruiting them would be an excellent way to help Finland deal with its ageing population, reports the non-profit organisation Pellervo Economic Research Institute.
According to a survey by the institute, some 91 percent of working immigrants say they have good to excellent labour skills. The percentage is the same for mainstream Finns. Of unemployed immigrants, 76 percent say they have at least good skills. For unemployed mainstream Finns, that number was 61 percent. Nearly all immigrants say they are eager to work as well.
Currently around 65,000 of Finland’s 130,000 immigrants are employed. Meanwhile about 20 percent are unemployed. In addition, some 25,000 immigrants are students, parents and pensioners. About one-third of them are actively seeking jobs.
In total, Finland has around 20,000 immigrants who are skilled and unemployed or outside the workforce. The institute says recruiting them could add a much needed boost to Finland’s labour market.

Language Is the Key

Language remains a key concern for immigrants searching for their first job. Experts point out that language skills improve on the job and work experience in Finland can open more doors in the future.
Services offered by employment offices are especially important for immigrants who often lack direct contact to the labour market. Some 49 percent of immigrant respondents said they used employment office services.
Furthermore immigrants clearly need more time to familiarise themselves at a new job than mainstream Finns. However employers don’t always want to invest time to help immigrants because of cost concerns. The report urges employers to come up with ways to help immigrants become familiar with their job.
A total of 1,103 immigrants responded to the survey carried out by the Pellervo Economic Research Institute.


Traditional family alive and well
Tuesday 11 November 2008

The traditional family where the man works full-time and the woman has a part-time job to pay for extras is alive and well in the Netherlands, according to a new report by the government’s social policy unit SCP.
The report shows that only 7% of Dutch women with a part-time job would like to work full-time and only one-third work because they need money. Only 41% of women with part-time jobs have children under the age of 11.
Women choose to work part-time so that it is easier to care for children, enjoy their hobbies, maintain social contacts and keep fit, the survey shows. ‘Women therefore take on the lion’s share of the household duties and childcare,’ the report says.

Money and status unimportant

But 40% of young women without children also work part-time, and only 16% of them would like a full-time job, the survey shows.
It points out that the government has actively stimulated the development of part-time jobs since the 1980s. Some 75% of women with jobs in the Netherlands work less than 35 hours a week, the highest percentage in Europe.
Many of the women are not interested in the money or status a career brings, the survey shows. Most feel that being recognised as good at their jobs and having nice colleagues is more important.

Minister shocked

The results of the survey have shocked Ronald Plasterk, the minister with special responsibility for women’s issues, and Pia Dijkstra, who chairs the government commission on boosting women’s working hours.
The AD newspaper reports that Plasterk and Dijkstra blame mothers and mothers-in-law for talking young women into working less.
‘They think their daughters and daughters-in-law have a hard time and say ‘do you really want to do that, dearie?’ the paper quotes the minister as saying.
‘Women are not sufficiently aware that … one in three marriages breaks down and they will end up without income or pension,’ says Plasterk.
He says the current situation means a great deal of female talent is being wasted. ‘In many areas there are more women graduates than men. But look who gets to the top, look who becomes professor. There are so few women,’ the AD quotes him as saying.


Brand Sweden enters global top ten
Published: 10 Nov 08 17:07 CET

A typically inhumane November mixture of wind, sleet, snow and SAD is not enough to dampen Sweden’s mood, as the country uses its cunning and stealth to creep into the top ten of a prestigious nation branding index.
“This gives recognition to Sweden as a very well-managed company,” said Christina Saliba to the TT news agency. Saliba is the chief executive of the Swedish branch of PR agency Weber Shandwick, which compiles the annual Country Brand Index in conjunction with the FutureBrand agency.
Australia, Canada and the United States are the three countries deemed to have this year’s strongest brands, while Sweden joins the list in tenth place for the first time in the index’s short four year history.
“Despite the fact that Sweden is a small country, we excel in many contexts, with several internationally recognized brands and a number of international stars,” said Saliba.
The study is based on responses to a questionnaire sent out to entertainment and business travellers as well as a panel of 30 international experts.
Sweden swept aside the opposition to score first place on two of the detailed sub-rankings.
“With forward-thinking privatized pensions, low inflation and one of the highest rates of GDP per hour worked, Sweden is a world leader in living standards,” according to the study.
The country has also garnered admiration for its green approach.
“With a comprehensive plan for an ‘Environmental Sweden,’ the country’s policy for ecologically sustainable development endeavors to solve all major environmental problems for the next generation.”
While Sweden fails to make a mark in a number of other areas, such as History and Arts & Culture, the country does manage to score top ten results across a range of fields.
Considered stable and secure, the country comes fourth on the safety ranking. Here neighbouring Norway is considered the safest of havens.
Sweden also scores highly (8th) for ease of travel to, from and within the country. But the Netherlands is considered the best facilitator of travel.
New Zealanders top the list in terms of friendly locals, with Swedes claiming a very creditable seventh position.
Canada gets the nod for the range of activities available to families, with Sweden dropping one place to sixth from last year’s index.
Japan is the best country in the world in which to hold a businesses conference, according to the study, while Sweden is tenth.
Business travellers wishing to extend their stay to include a vacation are told that Sweden is the seventh best place in which to do so. Not bad for a country without the sun, surf and barbies of top ranking Australia.
And only the Netherlands and New Zealand are considered to have more political freedom than their Swedish counterparts.
Given a choice to live anywhere outside their home country, most people surveyed opted for Australia, while Sweden is the sixth most popular choice.
The quality of products made in Japan is deemed higher than anywhere else. Sweden claims tenth spot on the product quality ranking.
Japan again scores highest as the country in which the latest technologies are most prevalent. But Sweden shows it can be techy too with a fourth place finish.
“Sweden has a good international reputation. Things are well ordered. We get good results for honesty in our relations with other countries. We are considered punctual and we follow the terms of our agreements.
“The fact that Sweden is on this top list gives a lot of added value to the business and tourism sectors,” said Christina Sabina.

Weekly Highlight: 05-11-2008


City councillors are finding that they can’t please everyone when it comes to organising the childcare system

Parents in Nørrebro are ready to throw a fit. Same with Vanløse. Concerns that their children will be hurt by proposed changes in the public childcare system in the two areas has some even threatening to move away from the city.
In Nørrebro parents are worried about the effects of a plan to stop offering a programme that sees their children bussed to preschools in greener areas outside the city centre. While in Vanløse they fear a proposal to change the classification of some preschools means finding a new place to have their children taken care of.
The programme bussing preschool-age children from certain areas of the most densely populated parts of the city to schools in suburban areas has long been a part of the city’s daycare system. In addition to freeing up space at often crowded preschools in their neighbourhoods, these ‘udflytterbørnehaver’ also allow children the chance to spend their day in a non-urban environment. But after the city announced that the 150 spaces now offered to children in Nørrebro would be transferred to Amager children, parents in Nørrebro say they are considering moving. Doing so would strengthen the area’s reputation for being hard hit by ‘white flight’.
Many parents point out that even though they see benefits of having them grow up in a multi-cultural environment, they feel their children also need time outside the city to experience something other than honking cars and cement playgrounds. A recent spate of gang-related shootings means parents are eager to keep their children as far away from the area as possible.
City councillors, however, defend the decision. They say Nørrebro has excess preschool capacity, while Amager has too little. ‘I can understand their concern,’ said Kasper Johansen, a Social Liberal member of the Child and Youth Committee, which is responsible for school issues. ‘I agree that bussing is an important part of the daycare system in Nørrebro.’
Johansen said he was willing to consider alternative solutions, but stressed that the lack of preschools in Amager also needed to be considered.   While parents in Nørrebro are concerned about not being able to ship their kids outside the city, parents in Vanløse are angry at a proposal that could see them dropping their kids off some place outside their neighbourhood.
A lack of daycare centres for children under the age of three – known as ‘vuggestuer’ – in the area mean the council is considering reclassifying preschool spaces for older children (‘børnehaver’). The city would find new places for 90 or so children in daycare centres affected by the change, but parents say the plan violates a 2002 council promise not to force parents to change daycare centres.
Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard, chairman of the Child and Youth Committee, admitted that the change could mean moving children against parents’ wills. He said, however, that the national government’s limitation on municipal spending meant the city couldn’t build its way out of the problem.
‘Reclassifying schools and moving resources is the only option we have. Not least because other areas of the city are facing a greater lack of daycare options.’
Kjeldgaard and the mayor’s Social Democratic party have agreed to consider amending their plan, but  Johansen said he had no intention of supporting it. He called it a ‘knee jerk’ reflex based on uncertain forecasts about the number of school age children living in the area in coming years. 


YLE Publishes Income and Tax Data
Published 03.11.2008, 06.10 (updated 03.11.2008, 20.39)

Income and taxation data for 2007 go public on Monday. The information will also be available on YLE’s Internet pages.
Members of the public will be able to browse income and taxation information for the entire country at the address yle.fi/verot. Visitors can find information on capital gains as well as earned income for thousands of Finnish taxpayers.
The website will also provide a sample listing of the top earners in both categories for each municipality in Finland. The size of the listings will depend on the composition of the municipality.
Last year, the top income earner was Nokia Chairman Jorma Ollila, who raked in 9.76 million euros in taxable income.
The pages will also provide tax information considered to be of national significance. The listings provide income and taxation data notable figures such as captains of industry, politicians, giants of culture and media as well as sporting heroes.


Chocolate cigarettes labelled a gateway drug
Published: 4 Nov 08 14:05 CET

German cancer researchers and consumer protection experts on Tuesday called for a ban on chocolate and candy cigarettes, labelling them a threat to the future health of children.
Officials from the Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg and the Association of Consumer Protection Agencies in Berlin said sweets made to look like cigarettes – widely available in German supermarkets and kiosks – gave youths the impression smoking was a harmless pleasure.
“Candy and toy cigarettes are a constant temptation for young children and have been shown to double the chances of becoming a smoker as an adult,” a spokeswoman for the Cancer Research Centre told The Local. “Forbidding them is a question of taking smoking prevention seriously.”
Candy resembling tabacco products has already been outlawed in other European countries, such as Great Britain, Finland, Norway and Ireland. The prohibition of candy cigarettes is also outlined in a World Health Organization convention, which Germany has ratified.
The two groups calling for the ban believe the legal enforcement of the convention is a crucial part in preventing German children and teenagers from smoking. They see voluntary agreement as too unreliable and say only a legal prohibition of the sweets will guarantee child welfare.
According to a 2005/2006 US survey of nearly 26,000 adults, consumption of candy cigarettes at age 12 doubles one’s chances of becoming a smoker as an adult, regardless of the smoking habits of one’s parents.


Cabinet confirms growth ‘towards zero’
Monday 03 November 2008

Economic growth next year will be significantly lower than the 1.25% forecast by the government in September when it announced its national budget plans for 2009, reports Saturday’s NRC.

Following the weekly cabinet meeting on Friday, prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende and finance minister Wouter Bos warned that growth could even fall ‘towards zero’, the paper says.
And while the cabinet does not as yet expect to make cuts, there will be no room for extra expenditure next year. This means that if government spending rises, for example in the area of social services, cuts will have to be made to compensate, the paper says.
‘The Dutch will have to get used to the fact that it is not going well with the economy,’ Bos is quoted as saying in what is his most sombre prognosis to date.
Balkenende also confirmed that any profits made from the stakes the state has bought in financial services group Fortis, and the ABN Amro and ING banks will be used to lower national debt.


Higher birth rates among Sweden’s foreign-born
Published: 3 Nov 08 12:43 CET

Foreign-born women living in Sweden are giving birth to more children on average than women born in Sweden, new statistics show.
A study by Statistics Sweden finds that foreign-born women had a fertility rate of 2.21 children per woman, while Swedish-born women reproduced at a rate of 1.82 children per woman.
Sweden’s overall fertility rate in 2007 was 1.88 children per woman, below the rate of 2.1 children per woman required to replace the population.
Since 1980, the percentage of births registered in Sweden to mothers born outside the country has nearly doubled from 12 percent to 22 percent.
Part of the increase is thought to be related to the increase in the number of foreign born women of childbearing age which has risen from 11 percent of women living in Sweden aged 20 to 40-years-old in 1980 to 18 percent in 2007.
According to the report, Sweden’s foreign-born population has increased by more than one million people in the last 50 years and numbered about 1.2 million people in 2007 out of Sweden’s total population of just under 9.2 million.
Statistics Sweden projects that Sweden’s foreign-born population will reach 1.7 million by 2050.
Entitled ‘Childbearing among native and foreign-born’, the study divides foreign-born women into six different categories corresponding to their country of origin: other Nordic countries, EU countries other than Nordic countries, European countries except the EU and Nordic countries, and countries outside Europe with high, medium or low level of development based on the United Nation’s Human Development Index (HDI).
Women from most of the groupings were found to have a greater likelihood of giving birth to a third or fourth child compared to women born in Sweden.
The study’s authors attribute the difference in part to the tendency of newly arrived immigrants to have children shortly after their arrival and in part because some groups of immigrant women are more likely to start having children earlier in life, as well as a tendency for women in Sweden to only have two children.
In general, the fertility rates of women born in other Nordic countries, EU countries other than the Nordics, and highly developed countries outside of Europe such as the United States, Chile, and South Korea, mirror the fertility rates of Swedish-born women quite closely since 1990.
Women born in European countries outside the EU, however, have historically had higher fertility rates than women born in Sweden, as have women born in low and medium developed countries outside of Europe.
The group with the highest fertility rate includes women born in countries with low-levels of economic development, although rates vary greatly from country to country.
Women from Somalia, for example, have the highest fertility rate, averaging 3.9 children per woman in 2007. However, women born in Ethiopia have a fertility rate of only 2.2 children per woman.
According to Statistics Sweden, however, childbearing patterns for foreign-born women are demonstrating a convergence with those of women born in Sweden.

Weekly Highlight: 28-10-2008


Danes used crappy spying tactics on Khrushchev
28.10.2008 Print article (IE & NS 4+)
Danish Defence Intelligence Service sifted through Khrushchev’s toilet contents for signs of illness, claims new book.
The Danish Defence Intelligence Service (FE) had some crappy assignments back in the 1960s according to a new book, detailing events of Danish spying during the Cold War.
 In ‘Spionerne Krig’ (The Spies’ War’), Hans Davidsen-Nielsen describes the bizarre surveillance operation that FE undertook during Soviet Union leader Nikita Khrushchev’s visit to Copenhagen in 1964. Intelligence operatives gathered the waste and urine from Khrushchev’s hotel toilet to investigate claims that he was seriously ill.
The Soviet leader’s visit came just six months after the assassination of President Kennedy and following a tip from American intelligence agents about the health of Khrushchev, the Danes decided to put their operation into effect.
Khrushchev was staying in a luxury suite at the SAS Royal Hotel during his June visit. With the help of some ingenious plumbing, FE managed to ensure that the contents of his toilet would be stored for later inspection by the intelligence services.
Shortly after his return to the USSR, the Soviet leader was ousted from his position by his eventual successor Leonid Brezhnev, among others. The Kremlin cited his poor health at the time as one of the reasons for his forced resignation.
However, thanks to the unusual investigation by the Danes, Peter Ilsøe of FE was able to tell international intelligence colleagues at a Paris conference in November 1964 that this was not the case.
‘With reference to Khrushchev’s illness, as you might know, we made a special effort during his visit to clarify the state of his health….We reached the conclusion in June, taking his 70 years age into account, that he was in no way displaying signs of advanced hardening of the arteries,’ Ilsøe said at the time. (kr)


Electronic Voting Receives Big Brother Anti-Award
Published 26.10.2008, 16.22 (updated 26.10.2008, 19.30)

Electronic Frontier Finland has awarded its “Big Brother” prize (Isoveli) to the Justice Ministry for its pilots of electronic voting in the 2008 municipal elections. Electronic Frontier Finland is an interest group established to ensure openness on the Internet and to protect the electronic rights of Finnish citizens.
The Big Brother award is granted to individuals or organisations that are seen to promote the watchdog society in Finland. In granting the dubious distinction the organisation criticised the electronic voting pilots because they weakened national information security.
IT services company Tieto-Enator also received the award for its role in developing the electronic voting system.
Voters in the 2008 municipal elections were able to cast electronic ballots in three pilot areas: Vihti, Karkkila and Kauniainen.
Officials report that electronic voting proceeded without any problems in the test districts on election day.
In Kauniainen, where voter turnout is traditionally high, a majority of voters opted for electronic voting. 


Savings guarantee is being abused
Tuesday 28 October 2008

The cabinet is taking undue risks by guaranteeing savings at the foreign branches of Dutch banks for up to €100,000, according to MPs, reports Tuesday’s Trouw.
If a bank goes bankrupt, savers can claim up to €100,000 from the Dutch state. The limit was increased earlier this month from €38,000 and applies not only to ING and Rabobank, but to all banks based in the Netherlands.
‘There are a lot of Turkish banks which are active in other countries but have their headquarters here,’ MP Pieter Omtzigt, of the ruling Christian Democrats is quoted as saying by the Trouw.
‘And lots of Russian banks fall under the Dutch ruling as well. Are they well supervised by the central bank?’ he asks.

Advertising in Italy and France

On Monday, the Parool reported that ING is advertising in Italy and France offering an interest rate of 6% and drawing attention to the government’s guarantee.
Turkey’s Garantibank International advertises 6.5% interest rate in Germany and also alerts savers to the increased limit.
‘We want to know how much foreign savings the Netherlands is guaranteeing,’ CDA MP Ellie Blanksma is quoted as saying in the Parool.
Last week Bos said banks are not supposed to draw attention to the guarantee in their advertising.
At the weekend, economist Willem Buiter of the London School of Economics warned that the guarantee is a danger to the Dutch economy and is being abused by banks to attract foreign savers.


Optimists abound in Norway
First published: 23 Oct 2008, 12:35

The poll, conducted for newspaper Aftenposten last week, showed that fully 73 percent of those questioned retain full confidence in their banks. Nearly 60 percent indicated that they don’t think their jobs are in danger.
Only 5 percent were considering converting their mortgages to fixed-rate loans, suggesting that they predict interest rates will decline instead of rise.
Less than half think they will make significant cuts in their own consumption, and eight out of 10 questioned think their own personal financial situation will be at least as good or better 12 months from now.
The Norwegians, it seems, aren’t letting the international financial crisis scare them. Even though several companies (including local media firms, real estate brokerages and industrial concerns) are already cutting back, a majority of those questioned don’t fear rising unemployment.
“I of course am thinking about what’s happening, that things can go wrong,” Kari Lovise Flood told newspaper Aftenposten. “But you have to stay positive.” She just opened her own, new flower shop in Oslo and has no regrets.
Flood, age 27, even thinks the current financial drama is “healthy” for the Norwegian society. “We have had such an incredibly strong period lately,” she said. “People have been buying new furniture and throwing it out again after just a year. It’s good if people think twice before spending so much.”
Even 55-year-old John Ek, who sells equipment for construction workers, is remaining optimistic. With construction projects already grinding to a halt, or being taken off the drawing board, doesn’t he worry about demand for his goods? “Not really,” he told Aftenposten. “We’re pretty strong, and we’re used to the cycles in this branch.”
Public sector workers also feel secure. “Both my wife and I work for the state, and that gives a degree of security,” said Rune Bergsvendsen, age 49. “But we are postponing some things we had thought about doing, like some home remodelling. We’ll wait and see what happens with interest rates.”
Only 1 percent of those questioned by research firm Respons for Aftenposten said they were seriously worried about their jobs, while 58 percent said they weren’t worried at all. The survey was conducted October 13-15, when stock markets briefly rallied but economists came with predictions of lower growth and higher unemployment in Norway next year.


Swedish breast cancer survival rate nears 90 percent
Published: 28 Oct 08 06:58 CET

Nearly nine out of ten women in Sweden suffering from breast cancer are likely to beat the disease, according to a new report.
The trend is positive, but the Swedish Cancer Society (Cancerfonden) believes even more women can survive if county councils devote more resources to mammography.
Twenty years ago, an average of 87 percent of women with breast cancer survived. Today the figure is up to 87.4 percent, according to the Cancer Society’s breast barometer, which is based on statistics from the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).
“When viewed in an international perspective, we have great numbers. But we’re not giving up until we’ve reached the maximum. Over 10 percent still don’t survive,” said Cancer Society secretary general Ursula Tengelin.
Several factors have contributed to the increase in Sweden’s breast cancer survival rate, according to Tengelin.
For starters, Sweden was early in implementing universal mammograms, which allows more tumors to be discovered at an early stage.
Swedish hospitals have also had access to modern treatment methods, while at the same time research conducted in Sweden has led to increased knowledge about breast cancer and its mechanisms.
“Swedish research is important for Swedish patients. Doctors don’t have second-hand information and new knowledge gets out to the healthcare system much quicker,” said Tengelin.
But the probability of a patient surviving breast cancer isn’t the same in every Swedish county. The variance is reflected in the differences in survival rates around the country.
Stockholm shows the highest chance of survival at 89.2 percent, followed by Dalarna and Uppsala in central Sweden.
Ranking last on the list of how many woman are still alive five years after having been diagnosed is Blekinge in southern Sweden, with 85 percent.

Weekly Highlight: 24.10.2008


Southern Denmark seeking to recruit German and Austrian doctors 

German-speaking physicians are in demand in the southernmost region of the country
Region Southern Denmark has begun a programme to actively recruit physicians and nurses from Germany and Austria for its hospitals.
The programme is a cooperation between the region, the Danish Embassies in Germany and Austria, and the Austrian health ministry. Job fairs are already planned for Vienna, Hannover and Dresden in the coming weeks, and the region hopes to land 100 doctors and 200 nurses through the effort.
Annette Lunde Stougaard, head of the region’s HR recruiting department, said that although the region has a large number of German-speakers, it is not the main reason it is looking to Germany and Austria.
‘First of all, Austria currently has a surplus of physicians,’ she told The Copenhagen Post. ‘But experience has also shown that German-speakers with an advanced education are quick to learn Danish and have a fairly easy time integrating into Danish society.’
Stougaard acknowledged, however, that the many German-speakers in the region likely make it easier to market German-speaking doctors there.
German has official status as a minority language in Denmark, but Region Southern Denmark has no figures on how many people in the region speak the language. (rc) 


New HIV Infections Frequently Occur Abroad
Published 24.10.2008, 17.46

The number of persons infected with HIV during visits abroad has grown in Finland. According to the National Public Health Institute (KTL), last year about one-third of new HIV patients were infected in foreign countries – mainly in popular holiday destinations like south-east Asia.
“Last year, the number of persons infected during sexual intercourse was particularly high in foreign countries. Time will tell if this is a long-term trend,” says Mika Salminen, the head of the HIV Unit at KTL.
Around 160 new cases of HIV are diagnosed in Finland each year. The majority of the infections were obtained during sexual intercourse. Ten years ago, only around half of HIV cases were spread during sex.
“Finns’ use of condoms as a birth control option is relatively rare,” says Salminen.
Meanwhile the number of infections from sharing contaminated drug syringes is down.
The Finnish Aids Council has launched a campaign on safety while travelling. Information pamphlets on HIV are being distributed in trains stations in cities including Helsinki, Tampere, Jyväskylä, Kuopio and Joensuu, as well as at the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport and at passenger ship terminals in Helsinki and Turku.  


Private forestry is profitable
Friday 24 October 2008

Private forest owners made an average of €47 profit on every hectare of trees last year, according to calculations by the LEI agricultural institute.
Between 2001 and 2005 forest owners lost an average of €63 on each hectare. The turnaround is due to rising timber prices and subsidies, LEI said. 


Norway won’t cut oil production
First published: 22 Oct 2008, 11:41

Støre, who’s been hosting his Algerian counterpart in Oslo this week, said Norway has no plans to cut production.
“Norway makes its own evaluations on an independent basis,” Støre said. He said Norwegian officials “of course” consult others, “but it’s Norway alone that makes these kinds of decisions.”
OPEC is due to meet Friday to discuss ways to boost prices, with production cuts high on the agenda as a means of cutting supply and thereby boosting demand. Algeria chairs OPEC, of which Norway is not a member.
Algerian Oil Minister Chakib Khelil has urged Norway, Russia and Mexico to reduce production in line with OPEC. Algeria’s foreign minister Mourad Medelci said Tuesday that he doubted Norway would let itself be instructed by OPEC.
From a high of nearly USD 150 a barrel last summer, oil prices fell by more than USD 3 on Wednesday, to near their lowest level in 16 months. Prices below USD 70 were tied to mounting worries that production cuts by OPEC itself will not be enough to offset lower energy demand.
Some North Sea crude fell to USD 67.44. “People are just scared that the economy is going down the tube,” Tony Nunan, assistant manager of risk management at Mitsubishi Corp in Tokyo, told Reuters. “There is a feeling that we are now going to see problems in the real economy; employment, real estate prices will continue to fall and the big concern now is how much economic growth is going suffer.”
A stronger US dollar means Norway stands to collect higher kroner revenues on every barrel sold, which may offset some of the price decline. There’s no question, though, that high oil prices in recent years fueled the strong economy Norway enjoyed until the international financial crisis erupted. Lower prices will mean far less money flowing into state coffers.
It doesn’t seem all that long ago that oil prices were well below USD 20, and the huge jump to well over USD 100 drove up costs for industry and most consumers. The high prices thus were a source of huge concern and complaints, making it almost ironic that the recent decline to a level that’s still over three times as high as prices once were, is now sparking concern and complaints as well.

New discovery
Meanwhile, Norwegian oil and gas group StatoilHydro announced a new oil and gas discovery near its Visund field in the North Sea on Wednesday. StatoilHydro said the find in the Pan Pandora prospect was its 20th discovery so far in 2008.
“The area south of Visund has considerable remaining resource potential,” StatoilHydro said. StatoilHydro opeartes the field with partners Total of France, ConocoPhillips of the US and Norway’s state-owned Petoro. 


Swedes cool towards ethnic diversity
Published: 24 Oct 08 12:19 CET

Greater numbers of Swedes are expressing hostility towards ethnic diversity, according to a new study.
According to the annual diversity barometer carried out by researchers at Uppsala University, the percentage of the Swedish population with extremely negative attitudes toward ethnic diversity has increased by 50 percent since 2005.
“The extremely negative attitudes are increasing, and we believe it’s in line with what’s happening in Europe. It’s not only older, but also younger who are negative,” said Orlando Mella, a sociology professor from Uppsala University, to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.
However, Mella added that in comparison to the rest of Europe, Sweden is generally quite positive toward diversity.
Overall, 5.7 percent of the population in Sweden indicated they have extremely negative attitudes toward diversity, up from 3.8 percent in 2005.
Among men, the instance of negative attitudes has increased from 5.3 to 7.5 percent since 2005.
Unexpectedly, however, the prevalence of negative attitudes toward ethnic diversity among Swedish women has nearly doubled from 2.3 percent to 4.1 percent.
“It’s surprising for us that there are more women in the group [expressing negative attitudes]; that’s not something we expected. Swedish women tend to be quite positive toward diversity,” said Mella.
Despite the growth of unfavourable views towards diversity in Sweden, Mella believes the country is better equipped to integrate immigrant groups than other European countries and that public perceptions of social exclusion among immigrants in Sweden is exaggerated.
“The large number of immigrants are on the way to or currently are being integrated,” she said.
Nevertheless, Mella said that continued growth in the number of Swedes expressing hostility toward ethnic diversity has the potential to affect Swedes’ attitudes more widely, noting that rising unemployment presents a challenge for politicians.
“But we should remember that there aren’t deep ethnic conflicts in Sweden like there are in France or Great Britain,” she said.

Sweden: Median Income 1980 – 2006


Weekly Highlight: 15.10.2008


Child abuse a national problem

Eight children die as a result of abuse or neglect in Denmark each year, according to the Social Services Board.
Recent statistics released by the National Board of Social Services show that between 600 and 1000 cases of child abuse are registered with the agency each year.
Susanne Dal Gravesen, project leader in the agency’s youth and children’s division, says the figure is at the most conservative end of the scale.
‘The statistics show only the tip of the iceberg. Child abuse typically takes place behind closed doors and is a very taboo issue,’ she said.
Police receive up to 4000 reports of alleged child abuse or neglect nationwide each year, only a fraction of which end up as concrete cases for the Social Services Board.
A recent Rambøll/Jyllands-Posten survey also showed that 8 percent of parents support corporal punishment for children when they misbehave.
Lola Jensen, a family counsellor, said the frustrations of many otherwise reasonable parents simply boil over as children become more and more difficult.
‘Children today generally have less respect for adults, authority, the police and the law,’ said Jensen. ‘I deal with many parents who swore they would never hit their child, but have done so because they felt powerless over the poor upbringing of their child, for which they themselves are responsible.’
The government has recognised the problem and set up the ‘Children from battered families’ programme, which was launched in August and includes a 51 million kroner allocation. But Jensen admits taming the problem is an uphill battle.
‘It will be a long time before our population consists exclusively of children who were never beaten by those that love them the most.’ (rc)


Smoking Shaves a Decade off Men’s Lives
Published 13.10.2008, 17.21

Middle-aged men who don’t smoke live about ten years longer on average than their heavy-smoking peers.
According to research carried out by the University of Helsinki, University of Oulu and the National Public Health Institute, non-smoking men also enjoy a somewhat higher quality of life in their later years.
Some 1,600 men born between the years 1919 and 1934 were included in the study. Their smoking patterns and health risks during the 1970s were analysed.


Dutch want to be in the dark
Tuesday 14 October 2008

A majority of the population would like it to be darker at night as long as this does not affect security, according to research by the environmental organisation Natuur en Milieu.
Some 75% say too much light disturbs nocturnal animals and 82% think it is a waste of energy, reports the Telegraaf.
Nearly half of those questioned complain that artificial light means they cannot see the stars.
According to survey, the Netherlands is one of the most lit up countries in the world, and it gets 3% lighter each year.


‘Lower growth, higher unemployment’
First published: 13 Oct 2008, 11:50

“The international finance crisis will yield clearly weaker growth impulses from abroad than earlier thought,” wrote SSB in its prognosis released at a seminar Monday morning.
SSB researcher Torbjørn Eika said it’s difficult to make predictions, though, given the market volatility unleashed by the financial crisis. He made the following anyway, saying Norway can expect:

a longterm international economic downturn
a decline in the price of raw materials
a decline in investment
weak growth of GNP
rising unemployment
lower wage growth

The downturn is likely to continue until 2011, before there may be what Eika called a “moderate” upturn.
He also thinks interest rates will fall again, down to 3.5 percent by the spring of 2010 from 8 percent in 2009. “We assume that the authorities will do what’s needed to gain control over interest rates,” Eika said.


Sweden contemplates alcohol locks for drunk drivers
Published: 10 Oct 08 08:52 CET

A new form of punishment for drunk drivers under consideration in Sweden would allow some offenders to keep their driver’s licences provided they installed an alcohol lock on their vehicles.
A report issued on Thursday by a government commission studying the use of alcohol locks did not propose implementing a general requirement that all new cars be outfitted with an alcohol lock.
The device prevents someone from starting a vehicle if it detects traces of alcohol on the driver’s breath.
The commission explained that a general requirement for alcohol locks could be considered to impede competition, and would thus require approval by European Union authorities in Brussels.
According to the commission’s findings however, a person who has been convicted of drunk driving could then be required to drive using an alcohol lock for one or two years, depending on the severity of the offence.
Other mitigating factors relating to the drunken driving transgression, as well as any diagnoses of alcohol dependence or abuse would also affect the required length of time for using the lock. In order to once again drive a car without the alcohol lock, the offender would have to avoid receiving any traffic citations during the probationary period and pass a test.
People who have their licences revoked after having driven while intoxicated must then request permission to instead drive with an alcohol lock.
The application, which would need to be accompanied by a doctor’s certificate, would be approved if the personal and medical conditions are accepted.
The government is expected to put forward a formal legislative proposal regarding alcohol locks sometime next year.

Sweden: Average Income 1980 – 2006


Sweden: Gini 1980 – 2006


Picture: Autumn in Stockholm

Life in Akalla, Stockholm, originally uploaded by micpohling.


Weekly Highlight: 30.09.2008


Majority support for abolishing shop law
29.09.2008 Print article (IE & NS 4+)
The Conservatives vote to abolish a law which keeps the majority of shops closed on Sundays.
Laws forcing stores to close on Sundays appear to be on their way out, after the Conservative Party changed its policy to offer support for a liberalisation of the shop law.
Delegates to the Conservative national convention voted on Saturday in favour of abolishing the law. The Conservatives have traditionally supported the law to protect smaller businesses, and many of their members are business owners and shop keepers.
Parliament is scheduled to take up the shop law next. Without the support of the Conservatives, the prime minister’s Liberal Party and its ally, the Danish People’s Party, no longer have a majority for keeping the laws in place.
Currently, most stores must close on Sundays – with the exception of the first Sunday of the month, Sundays in December and six additional Sundays. Businesses with a smaller turnover are also allowed to remain open on Sundays.
Conservative commerce spokesman Mike Legarth was in no doubt about the new party line.
‘I personally believe that we as Conservatives can’t set limits on when a shop should be open and when consumers can shop,’ Legarth told public broadcaster DR. (kr)


Many Finns Admit to Doing Illegal Work
Published 28.09.2008, 16.57

One in four Finns would be ready to circumvent taxes by doing work off the books, according to a new study. A quarter of those surveyed admitted that in fact, they have already done so.
The poll was commissioned by the newspaper Aamulehti and conducted by the financial pollster Taloustutkimus.
Young people and those in lower income brackets were the most ready to participate in a little black-market work.
In addition, people who live in Lapland were considerably more open to the idea than residents of other provinces. This may be because the region has a great need of seasonal and temporary workers for its tourism industry.
Markku Hirvonen, a Finance Ministry expert on shady bookkeeping, says that the IT and stock market trading sectors present a particular challenge, because people are more adept at covering their tracks.


70% fail to prepare for interviews
Monday 29 September 2008

Some 70% of people going for a job interview in the Netherlands do little or nothing to prepare, according to a survey by jobs site nationalevacaturebank.nl.
Only half do even the most minimum in terms of preparation and just 27% put on smart clothes. The website says the tight job market in Holland has made interviewees lazy.


Conservative U-turn on alcohol liberalization
First published: 22 Sep 2008, 12:16

The existing alcohol policy has reduced consumption and resulted in less alcohol related illness in Norway than in other countries. To liberalize alcohol rules would be irresponsible, concludes Høyre’s public health policy committee.
Previously, the Conservatives have been in favour of allowing the sale of wine in super markets, lower taxes on alcohol and longer opening hours. At present only beer may be sold in local shops. Wines and spirits are only available in government owned stores run by the state monopoly Vinmonopolet.
“The change of policy is the result of well-documented research which shows that alcohol-related illness increases with availability,” says Høyre spokesman, Inge Lønning.
“This doesn’t mean that we want to become more restrictive. In general, we think that the way things are at the moment represents the best solution,” says Lønning to daily newspaper Aftenposten.
Next year’s party congress will decide whether to adopt the committees’ suggestion.


Teachers report sexism common in Swedish schools
Published: 25 Sep 08 08:22 CET

A new survey shows that 73 percent of Sweden’s teachers feel they’ve experienced disturbing examples of sexism while on the job.
In addition, 58 percent of the teachers surveyed said that they hadn’t received adequate training or preparation in questions related to basic values.
Every fourth teacher also reports that they witnessed situations at school relating to racism, xenophobia, sexism and/or homophobia.
The results come from a study carried out by the Sifo polling firm on behalf of the National Union of Teachers (Lärarnas riksförbund) and published in an article by union chair Metta Fjelkner and Eva Swartz, head of the Natur & Kultur foundation, in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.
Sifo conducted in-depth interviews with 500 elementary and high school teachers about their views on how schools deal with issues related to basic values.
Nearly 90 percent believe their own schools aren’t especially active and nearly one in three say the leadership at their schools aren’t actively engaged in questions of basic values.

OECD Marriage and Divorce Trend: 1960 – 2005

A recap of some of the OECD countries’ trend in marriage and divorce rates (per 1000 population):

01. Austria
02. Belgium
03. Denmark
04. Finland
05. France
06. Germany
07. Greece
08. Iceland
09. Italy
10. Japan
11. Korea
12. Netherlands
13. New Zealand
14. Norway
15. Portugal
16. Sweden
17. UK
18. US

Weekly Highlight: 23.09.2008


Prostitutes create protest website
22.09.2008 Print article (IE & NS 4+)

An organisation representing prostitutes has created a website in response to what it believes is misinformation on a site set up by the social services board.
A Social Affairs Ministry campaign aimed at discouraging young people from buying sex has been criticised by prostitute organisation Sexarbejdernes Interesse Organisation, which has now created its own counter website.
SIO believes the ministry’s campaign, carried out by the National Board of Social Services, is full of false information and only serves to increase prejudices against prostitutes.
‘For example, the website says that prostitutes must suffer from ‘shell shock’, lack of sex drive, low self-esteem or physical handicaps,’ ‘Sus’ of the organisation told public broadcaster DR. ‘I think the website should be shut down or thoroughly edited.’
SIO’s new website uses the same graphic background as the board’s and challenges the official website’s use of celebrities to criticise prostitution. In addition, the organisation has complained to the social welfare minister and written to schools, urging students to look at both websites before passing judgement on the profession.
Sexologist Christina Tatarczuk said it was naïve to believe that prostitutes do not suffer mentally from their profession.
‘It’s a big delusion,’ she told avisen.dk. ‘The women I’ve spoken to say they battle several years with the experiences they’ve had.’
You can view both websites at (in Danish only): http://www.hvembetalerprisen.dk (National Board of Social Services website); http://www.hvembetalerprisen1.dk (SIO’s counter site). (rc)


Finland Leads Europe in Workplace Bullying
Published 22.09.2008, 10.20 (updated 22.09.2008, 20.44)

Workplace bullying is more common in Finland than in other member states of the European Union, according to Finnish and European studies on conditions at work.
One in five Finns report being harassed at work. Women are more likely to be victims than men.
Olavi Parvikko of the occupational safety section of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health says that Finns top European statistics in violence and workplace bullying.
“The two go hand in hand to a large extent. This kind of a culture, or a culture poor treatment of others can emerge,” Parvikko says.
Finns fall victim to workplace harassment approximately twice as frequently as the European average.
According to EU 27 statistics, countries that come after Finland in workplace harassment include the Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium, and France. The problem is significantly lower in the other Nordic countries. For instance, in Sweden, the figures are just one quarter of that of Finland.
“Sweden has managed to improve the situation significantly, Finland, not at all,” Parvikko laments.
“In Sweden, there has been public debate about bullying for a long time. Still they have lower figures than Finland,” says Anna-Maija Lehto of Statistics Finland.
New Figures out by Year’s End
Statistics Finland is working on new Finnish figures, which are expected to be ready by Christmas. Initial data indicates that bullying is actually in the increase in Finland. Women are typically bullied by co-workers, while men tend to be harassed by bosses. Teachers, for instance, are sometimes harassed by their pupils.
Harassment is seen as most typical in state and municipal workplaces where most of the employees are women. Professions include health care, social work and teaching. Especially prone to bullying are professions where there is high stress, frequent major changes and low job security.
Parvikko notes that rules of good behaviour have been drafted at many work places to avoid harassment and bullying. Unfortunately, no decline in bullying has been noted yet.


Minimum income keeps 120,000 households
Monday 22 September 2008

Last year 120,000 households in the Netherlands lived on the official minimum income, just under 2% of the total, says the national statistics office CBS.
The legal minimum income for a couple without children is €1,273 a month which is the same as the basic welfare payment.


Electricity price may jump as exports increase
First published: 22 Sep 2008, 15:38

Large exports of power to the Netherlands and higher coal prices may add NOK 10,000 (USD 1,800) to household electricity bills.
If the price of a Kilowatt/hour (kWt) climbs from NOK 0.30 to NOK 0.80 the average Norwegian household’s bill would increase by this amount.
Norway has traditionally had lower electricity prices than on the European continent, but as new cables increase export capacity, the difference is becoming smaller.
Electricity prices have risen steeply this summer and experts predict a price approaching NOK 0.80 / kWh by January, writes news bureau NTB.
Most electricity in Norway, comes from hydro power. The water level in the reservoirs, give an indication of electricity prices in the months to come.
“In June there was water enough to produce 14 teraWatt hours (tWh) more than usual in Norwegian reservoirs. At the moment we have 2 tWh less than normal. The main reason is a huge export of power to the Netherlands through the new cable,” says Kjell Rønningsbak, editor of the power generation website, Kraftnytt.no to daily newspaper Bergensavisen.
“The rainfall this autumn will affect electricity prices this winter. Increasing prices of Danish coal powered production will also raise prices in Norway. Higher coal consumption in China and India and higher carbon emission taxes in the EU, will increase the price of electricity from coal fired power stations. As Norway is part of a common Nordic power market this will raise prices here too;” says Rønningsbak.


Parents to get truancy reports via text message
Published: 23 Sep 08 07:27 CET

When students cut class in Gothenburg, their parents receive a text message in their mobile phones alerting them of the offence.
The city will be in the first in the country to implement the service for all public high schools, according to Sveriges Television.
The measure is just one more way to combat the growing levels of absenteeism in area high schools.
Last year, around 12,000 Swedish high school students skipped classes.
In Gothenburg alone there were 800 students and the number of reports of truancy has increased by 70 percent in two years.
According to the schools code, since 2006 parents are to be contacted when their children have an unauthorized absence from high school.

Weekly Highlight: 16.09.2008


Public transport losing out to cars

A new independent report shows that the billions of kroner set aside to improve public transport have not lured people away from their private vehicles.
Despite the government setting aside 25 billion kroner to improve public transport in Greater Copenhagen, passenger numbers have not increased over the past five years, according to a new independent report.
The report from engineering and planning consultancy COWI cites rising ticket prices, disruptions in bus and train service and notable increases in people’s disposable income as all having a hand in putting a dent in overall public transport passenger figures.
In 2002, there were an estimated 255 million trips on the city’s trains, busses and Metro system – roughly the same figure as in 2007. The government had estimated a passenger increase of 30 million for the period.
The COWI report indicates that ticket prices for public transport in the city have risen 29 percent over the five-year period. In contrast, petrol prices rose by ‘only’ 20 percent during that time. A strong economy has also been partly to blame for stagnant passenger figures, as more people have been able to afford buying vehicles.
And automobiles are the biggest problem, according to many traffic experts. They point out that while the government has poured billions into public transport, it has poured even more into bettering conditions for vehicle traffic.
‘Investment in road construction is the worst thing for public transport,’ Per Homann Jespersen, traffic researcher at Roskilde University, told Berlingske Tidende newspaper.
‘When you improve motorway conditions to and from the city, demand for the use of those roads increases. And that will only lead to more traffic congestion in the near future.’
Some experts also point to a 100 million kroner government public transport subsidy for city residents that was revoked in 2004. The money was instead put toward nationwide rail renovations.
But while passenger figures for the capital region have been disappointing, Søren Eriksen, managing director of national rail service DSB, said the company has seen record growth in its passenger numbers. As of the first half of 2008, DSB had a 3 percent increase in passengers since last year. But Eriksen agreed that focus on private vehicle transport does not helped train and bus figures.
‘When you create better conditions for private vehicles it weakens the ability for public transport to compete,’ he said.
‘But the way to solve the problem isn’t to make driving more difficult but rather significantly improve public transport and improve the infrastructure. That will undoubtedly result in more passengers.’ (rc)


Beer Sales Decline, Wine Sells Well
Published 12.09.2008, 17.19 (updated 12.09.2008, 19.40)

Sales of alcoholic beverages declined in the first half of this year by three percent. Sales in restaurants and bars declined by eight percent, while retail sales went down by just two percent.
According to figures put out by the National Product Control Agency, sales of beer declined by nearly four per cent at the beginning of the year, while sales of wine rose by just over a percent. Sales of fortified wine was also rising slightly.
Sales of strong spirits went down by more than four percent. 


Offshore wind power targets will not be met
Monday 15 September 2008

The government will not meet its goal of having around 30 offshore windparks (total capacity 6,000MW) in the North Sea by 2020 if it maintains current policy, reports Saturday’s Financieele Dagblad.
After 10 years of dithering on issues such as locations and subsidies, the Netherands has managed to build just two offshore windparks with combined capacity of 228MW, enough to supply electricity to 225,000 households, the paper says.
In 2011 there will be another three windparks at the most, leaving the country far behind its own target and those of neighbouring countries, says the paper.
Project developers have to negotiate with five ministries for licences and it is often unclear what the criteria are. This means investors are going abroad, Marcel Gerritsen, head of project financing at Rabobank, tells the paper.
The price of electricity in Europe is between 8.5 euro-cents and 11 euro-cents per kilowatt hour. Producing electricity from offshore turbines costs between 14 and 16 euro-cents, says the FD.


Malpractice kills 2,000 each year
First published: 11 Sep 2008, 16:59

At least 2,000 patients die as a result of an “unfortunate occurrence” in hospitals each year.
No one knows the exact figure as patients may already be severely ill and many errors never get reported to hospital managers.
We need greater openness at all levels. We have to be willing to admit that this is a problem and the authorities have to accept that this is a big figure,” says Øistein Flesland, who heads the National Body for Patient Safety to news bureau NTB.
The first Norwegian conference on patient safety was held in Oslo on Wednesday. Flesland wants future conferences to address patient safety in primary health care and psychiatric care.
“If we are going to improve patient safety we have to look at survival statistics from hospitals, count cases of hospital infections and to be able to report unwanted occurrences,” says Flesland.
Incorrect medication and infections are the main errors which cause severe illness or death in patients.
“Some improvements are both cheap and simple to implement,” says Flesland. For example, two medicine bottles containing different concentrations of morphine may have almost identical labels. Why not give them different colours?” says Flesland.
State Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Dagfinn Sundsbø, estimates that as many as 10 percent of hospital patients may experience an “unfortunate occurrence”, which in some cases might lead to death.
“We have to learn from our mistakes and work towards a working environment which is both more open and which allows mistakes to be reported freely,” says Sundsbø.
Anders Baalsrud, who heads a department at the National Hospital in Oslo, says that Norway is known for being good at safety in the oil industry. “Why aren’t we equally good at hospital safety,” he asks.
Baalsrud estimates “unfortunate occurrences” in hospitals rank fourth in the list of causes of death in Norway, after coronary disease, cancer and respiratory illness.


Study: Swedish men sensitive and lazy
Published: 15 Sep 08 14:38 CET

While Swedish men are more willing to accept their role in raising children than men in other parts of Europe, they can’t seem to be bothered to do much about it, according to a new study.
Unsurprisingly, Swedish men rank the highest in Europe when it comes to equality between the sexes, with 78 percent agreeing that a man can raise a child just as well as a woman, reports the Göteborgs-Posten newspaper.
The results come from a study ordered by media company Discovery Networks in order to learn more about the attitudes of their male viewers and involved a survey of 12,000 men in 15 countries.
Nearly two-thirds of Swedish men also believe it’s more important for fathers to provide emotional support than economic support.
However, the study also reveals that Sweden’s sensitive, new-age men may have shed the Protestant work ethic behind the traditional stereotype of the stoic, hard-working Swede who puts his head down and does what is necessary to complete the task at hand.
Only 63 percent of Swedish men agreed that “The most important thing for me is to support my family”, the lowest figure recorded in Europe.
Furthermore, only 35 percent reported that staying in shape is a priority, again the lowest among men from other European countries included in the study.
And more Swedish men, 35 percent, also see going on holiday as an excuse to do nothing when compared to men from elsewhere in Europe.
The study also confirmed some broader trends that European men in the 25- to 39-year-old demographic are delaying the traditional milestones of adult life, such as having children, purchasing a home, and becoming economically independent from their parents.

Weekly Highlight: 09.09.2008


Mayor calls for help with Copenhagen crime

Copenhagen’s lady mayor has called on the government to step in and help clean up street crime.
Violence, vandalism and 30 shootings on the streets of Copenhagen this year, has prompted Ritt Bjerregaard, the city’s lady mayor, to call on the government to set up a national fight against street crime.
Bjerregaard said the council was not able to solve the problem by itself. She has also met with Hanne Bech Hansen, the superintendent of Copenhagen Police, to voice her concerns.
As a result, the police have promised 50 extra officers on the streets of Copenhagen.
‘It’s positive, but naturally I can’t judge if it’s effective yet. In any case, the important thing is to crack down on minor crimes. If people report crimes and don’t see any action being taken, then we are sending a very dangerous signal,’ said Bjerregaard.
Copenhagen Council continues its crime prevention efforts, including opening more youth clubs in problem areas.
Bjerregaard said investigations into the Copenhagen street fires and vandalism in the past few years has found that many of the young people involved had no social outlet available.
Per Larsen, the Copenhagen chief of police, said he supported more policing the streets in an effort to cut down violent crime.
‘We, like Ritt, are tired of the shootings in the city. We do what we can, and recently have decided to set up CCTV cameras in many areas of Copenhagen, and also created search zones for bikers.’
The latest street troubles saw almost 100 young immigrants take to Jægersborggade street in the Nørrebro district of Copenhagen Sunday night. In the space of five minutes they smashed cars and shop windows in the well-known biker area. It is the latest in a series of run-ins between immigrant and biker gangs. (kr)


Farmers Exaggerate EU Subsidy Claims
Published 08.09.2008, 07.59 (updated 08.09.2008, 14.59)

Half of the country’s farmers apply for excessive subsidies from the European Union.
Some farmers apply for aid in excess of their actual arable acreage, reports the newspaper Keskisuomalianen. Only a few, however, greatly exaggerate the actual size of their land.
Last year 65 farms were refused subsidies due to false declarations. Most of the cases were in Central Finland.
Some 65,000 farms are applying this year for farm aid on the basis of their land size.


Dutch products favourite with 34%
Friday 05 September 2008

One-third of Dutch consumers prefer to buy national products rather than foreign brands according to a survey by consultancy Deloitte on Friday.
Around 34% said they would buy Dutch products if price and quality was equal to foreign alternatives, 64% said they had no preference and 2% said they would choose for makes from abroad.


Half the whale quota caught
First published: 04 Sep 2008, 15:48

The end of August marks the close of the 2008 whaling season. For the third year running, only half the quota has been caught.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs have set a quota of 1052 minke whales. The total catch this year is 534 animals.
“It’s time we asked ourselves whether there’s any point in having a quota at all, when they are regularly unfilled. Clearly whaling serves a niche market which is in decline,” says sea mammal advisor to the animal rights organization, Dyrebeskyttelsen


Swedish prostitutes want to pay taxes
Published: 8 Sep 08 13:51 CET

More and more Swedish prostitutes want to pay taxes in order to receive the social welfare benefits that come with doing so.
“So far this year I’ve spoken with several women who want to make things right,” said Pia Blank Thörnroos, a legal expert with Sweden’s Tax Authority, to the Göteborgs-Posten (GP) newspaper.
While it remains against the law to purchase sex in Sweden, selling sex is perfectly legal according to Sweden’s unique prostitution law, which came into force in 1999.
Moreover, prostitution has been considered a business activity in Sweden since 1982 and as a result proceeds from the sale of sex subject to taxation just like any other form of income.
“You have to keep track of all your income and expenses; all compensation should be accounted for,” explained Blank Thörnroos.
“One should really have accounting records. And in actuality [customers] should write out a receipt, because the transaction is considered a private operation which is subject to value added tax. But customers’ names need not be on the receipt.”
Income recorded on prostitutes’ tax returns gives them the right to sick-leave pay, parental leave benefits, and a pension.
“It’s important to pay taxes if you want to live a normal life,” said ‘Lisa’, a prostitute who spoke with the newspaper.
But Christian Democrat Riksdag member Désirée Pethrus Engström thinks that legitimizing prostitution by collecting taxes on the proceeds sends the wrong message.
“Economic security is something which makes a situation permanent. And that in turn can encourage prostitution, which is wrong,” she tells GP.
“It’s indirectly illegal to be a prostitute because it’s illegal to buy sex. But it’s a tough question to which there isn’t a simple solution.”

Weekly Highlight: 02.09.2008


Martyr to become a taboo word

The Danish Intelligence Agency has recommend authorities avoid using certain words to describe terrorism.
A new document from the Danish Intelligence Agency (PET) advises authorities to refrain from using certain words when debating terrorism.
PET is worried that religious terms used to describe terrorism are creating a harmful link between the public’s perception of Islam and terrorism.
The document is entitled ‘Language use and the fight against terror’. It recommends avoiding the use of words like martyr, jihad, fundamentalist, Islamism and mujahedeen when talking about terrorism.
Anja Dalgaard-Nielsen, PET’s head of preventative security, said that adopting the language and phrases used by extremists can legitimise their actions.
Dalgaard-Nielsen said that introducing new language guidelines will help prevent radicalization of Muslim citizens, who often feel labelled as terror suspects.
‘Terrorist groups often try to legitimise their actions by associating them with religion, using words such as ‘jihad’,’ she said. ‘However, a jihad also has peaceful and positive meanings, and it is unfortunate if the authorities repeat it and strengthen the extremists’ use of the word.’
The prime minister and integration minister had not yet seen the report, but other politicians had mixed reactions.
‘I’ll say what I want to say, and I think PET should keep to itself when it comes to the need for political correctness in public debates,’ Martin Henriksen, the Danish People’s Party’s integration spokesman, told Kristeligt Dagblad newspaper.
Karsten Lauritzen, the head of the parliamentary integration committee, said it was naive to think avoiding certain words would fight terrorism.
‘But I’ll say that PET is right that the authorities should understand certain words before they use them. For example, ‘sharia’ is not just a brutal justice system, but also an education in how to be a good Muslim. It’s not always seen that way though, and the authorities should debate on an informed basis.’


Direct Development Aid Stunting Development?
Published 01.09.2008, 18.15
Direct development aid given by Finland has stunted the development of recipient governments, claims a new report by Helsinki University professor Juhani Koponen.
His research shows that aid money has created a steady source of income, and minimized the pressure for the governments of developing countries to get their own taxation systems and legislative processes in better working order.
Aid money has also selectively strengthened areas of government, such as finance ministries, while other offices still struggle. Koponen observed this trend in countries where Finland has had long-standing development ties, such as Nepal, Tanzania, and Vietnam.

Money “Disappears”
Retired Ambassador Antti Hynninen, who co-ordinated Finland’s aid contributions for a time, agrees with the study’s findings. He says that for example, most of the money sent to Sudan and Egypt simply disappears.
He feels that Finland should stop indiscriminately raising its development contributions and actually take a critical look at what good it has done and how to improve its efficacy.


Most kids go home for lunch, survey
Tuesday 02 September 2008
The majority of children at primary schools go home for lunch and only 8% spend every midday break in the classroom, according to research by TNS Nipo reports the Telegraaf on Tuesday.
Schools believe tradition plays a major role in parents’ decision whether their offsdpring stay at school or go home during the lunch break. Only 9% said cost was the main factor.
Most schools prefer voluntary lunch supervisors to professional childminders, the researchers said.


Students cheating, too
First published: 01 Sep 2008, 10:12

Just a week after news broke that former members of Norway’s parliament are facing charges of collecting more pension benefits than they should, comes news that students are effectively cheating the system as well.
Newspaper Dagsavisen, which broke last week’s top story about pension overpayments to former MPs, also reported Monday that students are collecting far more student aid than they should.
That’s because they’re using false addresses, indicating they’re out on their own, when in reality they’re living at home with their parents. In most cases, that implies far lower housing costs than otherwise stated, and should result in much lower financial aid grants (called utdanningsstipend in Norwegian).
There is no tuition at state universities in Norway, as compared to the fees charged college students in the US, for example, but students are responsible for their books, supplies, various minor fees and all living expenses.
Parents in Norway are not viewed as being primarily responsible for the college expenses of their offspring, so most students over the legal age of 18 apply for grants and loans and many work on the side. This results in most students finishing their college years at much older ages than in the US, and in considerable debt.
Around 150,000 students in Norway currently are financing their studies through the student loan agency Statens Lånekassen. It distributes as much as NOK 17 billion annually (around USD 3 billion) in the form of loans and grants.
Just over 8,000 of those studying today have reported that they live at home with their parents. Another 43,000 report addresses close to their parents’ addresses, but can theoretically live at home.
Officials at Lånekassen recently ran a check of the students’ actual residential circumstances and found that 4.5 percent were collecting grants by using a false address, reported Dagsavisen. They collectively may have swindled the system for as much as NOK 65 million.
“This is very serious, said Astrid Mjærum of Lånekassen. “The dishonest students are stealing from society, and undermine the entire system.”
Those caught can be denied future student financing for life, and grants they have received will be turned into debt that they must repay.


Thousands of Swedes order home chlamydia tests
Published: 1 Sep 08 07:11 CET

Tests for the sexually transmitted disease, which are available for order over the internet, have proven extremely popular in Sweden.
So far nearly 30,000 tests have been carried out across the country.
What’s more, the home tests have been enticing new groups of people—especially more boys and men—to test themselves for the disease.
A record number of Swedes have been infected with chlamydia.
Since the start of the year more than 24,000 people have been diagnosed, with the majority being young people between the ages of 15 and 27.
To simplify testing for the disease, several county councils have been offering chlamydia tests over the internet.
Tests are home delivered through special websites, after which users can send the results in to a laboratory for analysis.
A few days later, the coded test results are made available and can be read online from a home computer.
As a result, caregivers reach a segment of the population that they might not otherwise have reached.
In Västra Götaland County, which has offered the tests online since 2006, more than 15,000 residents have tested themselves.
“It started tentatively, but now we’re seeing a successful increase. A big advantage is that we getting more gender balance—men have begun to approach women in terms of the number of tests [they have ordered],” said Peter Nolskog, an infectious diseases specialist with the Västra Götaland county council.
The fact that the internet is always open and that people can remain anonymous has attracted many, believed Nolskog.
The test have also been popular in Södermanland.
“We started in January and it’s increasing from month to month,” said infectious disease doctor Carl-Gustaf Sundin.

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