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Global index shows Sweden worst in the Nordic countries at fighting inequality

11 October 2022

Sweden drops 10 places in the global equality index "Commitment to Reducing Inequality" (CRI), produced by Oxfam in collaboration with Development Finance International (DFI).
The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index is a biennial equality index produced by Oxfam in partnership with Development Finance International (DFI), which ranks 161 countries' commitments to reducing economic inequality. The report specifically analyses measures in three areas that are crucial to combating economic inequality: welfare, taxes, and workers' rights.

This year's index, which measures the years 2020-2021, shows a negative trend in the world, where economic inequality is increasing. During the worst health crisis in a century, half of the poorest countries chose to cut their healthcare budgets and 95% of all countries froze or cut taxes for the rich and corporations. Sweden plummets to 20th place, the lowest ranked of the Nordic countries, while Norway tops the list.

"An unequal world leads to increased social unrest, political instability, violence and crime. This is why the current developments in Sweden and the world are worrying. The loss for Sweden is mainly a result of political decisions that have meant that Sweden's tax policy has not succeeded in combating economic inequality. If Sweden and other countries do not start acting to curb the escalating inequality, the consequences could be catastrophic."

Suzanne Standfast, Secretary General Oxfam Sweden

The ranking is based both on policy measures in the tax area over the past two years, and on the effects of the tax policies of recent decades, which are leading to increasing inequalities in Sweden.

"Extreme poverty and hunger are increasing in the world, and the vast majority of people are now struggling harder to make ends meet. We need to start talking about inequality and its consequences in Sweden. We want to see politicians analyze and propose solutions both to reduce economic inequality within Sweden's borders, but also to reduce inequality between countries and in countries with widespread poverty."

Suzanne Standfast, Secretary General Oxfam Sweden

Brief facts from the index

The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index shows:
- During the worst health crisis in a century, half of low- and middle-income countries chose to cut their health budgets. Half of all 161 countries in the index cut investment in social protection, and 70 percent cut education budgets.
- While poverty rose to record levels and workers struggled with the highest prices of the decade, two out of three countries failed to raise the minimum wage in line with economic developments during the pandemic.
- Despite high pressure on government investment during the pandemic, 143 out of 161 countries froze taxes for their wealthiest citizens, and 11 countries cut their taxes.
- Some of the countries that bucked the global trend and took strong action to reduce inequality include Costa Rica, New Zealand, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Barbados.
- Low-income countries spent 27.5% of the 2021 budget on debt repayment - twice as much as they spent on education, four times what they spent on health and almost 12 times as much as they spent on social protection.