When The Lobby last cast its eyes upon Sweden, the present holder of the EU Presidency, we dispelled the myth about rampant levels of suicide in Sweden and confirmed that Swedes keenly engage in eating fermented herring (no really, it’s true). So what’s next? Exceptionally long holidays and husbands that stay at home taking care of the kids? Well, yes actually, if one is to trust recent research.

A new study by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) shows that Swedes enjoy on average 33 days of collectively agreed annual paid leave – the largest number of days in Europe – the runner-ups are Denmark and Germany with 30 days, and Italy and Luxembourg with 28 days. At the other end of the spectrum you find Cyprus and Estonia with ‘only’ 20 days per year. Furthermore, the study shows that Swedes are among those that spend the least amount of time at work each week, almost an hour below the EU average (Working Time Directive anyone?).

Sweden’s long-standing tradition of promoting gender equality is based on the idea that a more just and democratic society results from women and men sharing power and influence equally. This all sounds well and good, but is it true, and do Swedish men make good husbands?

According to research conducted by Oxford University economist Almudena Sevilla-Sanz Swedish men make for great husbands. According to Sevilla-Sanz’s research, outlined in an interview with Swedish online paper The Local, Swedish men are much more willing than many of their international counterparts to do the cooking at home or the laundry. In addition, the study shows that men in more egalitarian societies are more willing to take on what may traditionally be regarded as “women’s work”.

So is the solution to all our woes a move to Sweden? Most probably not, but the promotion of gender equality is and should remain an important pillar of the European construct and Sweden should keep leading by example, yet strive to always keep improving.

– Emil

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