Media Blog

The classic Swedish welfare model at work

As reported in today’s Financial Times:

System comes under scrutiny as welfare net frays
By David Ibison in Stockholm
October 30, 2007

To say Roger Tullgren likes heavy metal would be an understatement. The committed headbanger used to take time off work whether his boss liked it or not, to go to gigs; he also listened to music the entire time he was at work. “My friends used to ask me to say anything – just one thing – that was not to do with heavy metal, and I couldn’t,” he admitted.
The situation got so bad that, with the backing of his boss, he consulted a psychologist who concluded that Mr Tullgren was not just an ardent rock fan but was in fact addicted to heavy metal – and signed an official diagnosis stating as much.
It was a finding that allowed Sweden’s famously generous welfare system to craft a unique and illustrative solution: as Mr Tullgren was suffering from a medical problem, he qualified for income support.
The government now pays 20 per cent of his salary and he is permitted to listen to heavy metal at work and go to any gigs he likes, as long as he makes up the time later. “For me, it’s great,” said the genial and tattooed rocker.
… Stefan Fölster of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise said: “The welfare system is generous and that gives people a greater incentive to abuse it. Swedes are much more prone to cheat today than they were 30 years ago.”

Tom Gross — Tom Gross is a former Middle East correspondent for the London Sunday Telegraph and the New York Daily News.

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