Sweden is seen as the archetypal equal and consensual country with a strong and redistributive welfare state, a high degree of job security, low income and wealth inequality and a renowned high-tech export sector. A deeper look reveals that not everyone in Sweden is part of the Swedish success story. Growth, employment, and wealth creation are restricted to a minority of urban areas. Predominately rural and deindustrialised areas have fallen behind. The Swedish disparity report shows that the country has distinct geographical inequalities in terms of growth, employment opportunities and wealth creation.
Uneven growth fueled by high rates of urbanisation and rural depopulation have been further exasperated by the country's demographic change. Stagnating unemployment rates have increased regional inequalities and put increasing pressure on municipalities to provide services of high quality for their inhabitants. This calls for policy reforms on the national and the European level. A new approach for regional development is needed.