copy the linklink copied!36. Sweden

This country profile presents key self-employment and entrepreneurship indicators for women, youth, seniors and immigrants in Sweden and benchmarks them against the European Union average. It also describes recent policy actions and current issues in the policy debate about inclusive entrepreneurship.


copy the linklink copied!Key trends

Overall, 8.7% of the working population was self-employed in 2018 relative to 13.7% across the European Union (EU). Women, youth, seniors and immigrants were less likely than the EU average to be self-employed in 2018, but those that were self-employed were more likely to have at least one employee. This was particularly true for self-employed youth, who were twice as likely as the EU average to have employees in 2018 (30.8% vs. 15.9%). While women and youth were as likely as the EU average to indicate that they were involved in starting or managing a new business between 2014 and 2018, seniors were slightly more likely (5.9% vs. 4.4% for the EU). Only a small and declining proportion of new women, youth and senior entrepreneurs indicated that they started their business due to a lack of employment opportunities.

copy the linklink copied!Hot issue

While Sweden accepted the most refugees per capita in 2015, immigration policy has been debated in recent years. Business creation is one mechanism that has been used to help immigrants and refugees integrate into society and the labour market. However, a 2018 report by the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket) found that entrepreneurs with a foreign background have more difficulty getting business loans than native-born entrepreneurs. Access to finance was identified as a barrier to growth for entrepreneurs who are immigrant youth and immigrant women.

copy the linklink copied!Recent policy developments

Entrepreneurship education for youth was strengthened in 2018 with an investment of SEK 20 million (approximately EUR 1.9 million). The National Agency for Education received SEK 10 million (approximately EUR 950 000) for boosting entrepreneurship in compulsory and upper secondary schools. The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth will receive SEK 7 million (approximately EUR 660 000) for developing a digital education programme aimed at young entrepreneurs. The Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences was tasked with creating a pilot initiative for students in grades 8 and 9 to learn about operating a business.

This profile is based on a recent country assessment report, which can be found at:

copy the linklink copied!Key inclusive entrepreneurship data

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Figure 36.1. Entrepreneurship and self-employment data for Sweden
Figure 36.1. Entrepreneurship and self-employment data for Sweden

Notes: The self-employment rate is defined as the number of self-employed people (15-64 years old) divided by the number of people in employment. The TEA rate is the proportion of adults (18-64 years old) involved in setting up a business or managing a business that is less than 42 months old. Necessity entrepreneurship is defined as entrepreneurship activities that were launched because there were no other options in the labour market. Early-stage entrepreneurs are those who are in the process of setting up a business or managing a business that is less than 42 months old. The EU average in Panels D-F excludes Czech Republic and Malta for the period 2014-18 and Malta for the period 2009-13.

Sources: Panels A and B: Eurostat (2019), Labour Force Survey,; Panel C: Eurostat (2018), Self-employment, Labour Force Survey ad-hoc module,; Panels D-F: Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (2019), Special tabulations of the GEM survey 2014-18.


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