Home Politics Hallelujah, We Can Have Swedish Public Services - Pay Public Servants Less

Hallelujah, We Can Have Swedish Public Services – Pay Public Servants Less



As Polly Toynbee keeps telling us we should be more like Sweden. As Polly also continually tells us we desire those Swedish public services but we’re not willing to pay the taxes to fund them. As the perceptive will have noted there is a way out of this impasse. We could have the public services but just pay the people who provide them less.

This being what Sweden does do. Sure, it has more public servants. And, in common with the other Nordics, it pays them less. Hey, don;t just believe me, feast your pryin’ eyes:

Cool, lots of lovely public servants.

And, as you would think, they spend a lot of GDP on this:

And they pay them less than even we do:

So, sure, let’s be more like Sweden. Cut public sector wages now!



  1. I’m not surprised to find almost 1 in 6 Norwegians work for the state. Unless you’re working in oil or fishing, there isn’t much else to do (except flog stuff to other Norwegians).

  2. A quick, first glance says UK teat-suckers could absorb a flat 25% pay reduction and then the conversation about productivity and usefulness could commence.

  3. Don’t know the specifics or whether this has any relevance to the particular set of countries here, but average salary depends substantially on what services are being paid for directly from the public purse doesn’t it? If you outsource the catering and cleaning in civil service buildings, schools etc that bumps up the average public sector pay even if nobody’s pay changes in reality and the government is still footing the bill for the work. Not entirely sure how you adjust for that kind of thing…

  4. Try this with the whole employment package costed. Include number of holidays, sick days, other random days / breaks allowed off, pensions (of course), support packages (all sorts), virtually unsackable despite performance (from the bottom to the top), days off in lieu, non-productive training days yes, diversity and all that). I’m sure there are many more. The deal used to be that the value of these was reflected in modest salaries. Since Gordy Brown spent our gold and private pensions on his union friends the deal has been off and the public sector personnel costs gave gone through the roof.

  5. This is more complicated than the article, or Tim, suggests, but his point was that they grab a statistic & say see, we should be like them. Then you show them another statistic & it’s no, we shouldn’t be like them.

    As noted above, it’s total compensation (including benefits, time off, job security) that really matters, not salary.

    And, of course, there may be huge differences in how different countries track & report this.

    Universal rule – I don’t trust any statistic or “study” until I know a great deal about where it came form and how it was derived.


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