The Swedish Agency for Public Management

The public sector in brief – the development in 2012 (The Development of the Public Sector 2012)

In this report we describe the development of the scope of the Swedish public sector in terms of funds and staff. We give details about organisational and structural changes within the government and describe the citizens' perception of quality in a number of public and publicly financed activities.

In the report we describe the development in the last decade with emphasis on the events of the last two years. In brief, this is the result:

  • Since 2000 the public sector has decreased in terms of its proportion of GDP. The decrease applies to both public income and expenditure.
  • In 2012 the public sector expenditure was larger than the income. Between 2011 and 2012 public expenditure's proportion of GDP has increased.
  • Since 2000 the income has increased more in the municipal sector than in the government sector, although government income remains larger.
  • In 2012 the net lending was negative, which means that government expenditure exceeded the income.
  • Since 2002 consumption expenditure (wages, materials, social security contributions etc.) has increased both within local government and within government administration. In terms of fixed prices the expenditure has increased to 11 and 10 per cent respectively during the whole period. The consumption expenditure remained unchanged in 2012 compared to 2011.
  • The public sector proportion of the labour market is decreasing. In 2011, 28 per cent of those in employment in Sweden worked within the public sector. Overall, more than 1,254,000 people work in the public sector.
  • On government level, there is an equal distribution of women and men. In county councils and municipalities 8 out of 10 employees are women.
  • Since 2007 the number of employees that are aged 24 years or less has doubled in the public sector. The number of employees choosing to work beyond 65 years has also increased.
  • The number of agencies continues to fall but at a slower rate than previous years. On 1 January 2013 there were 372 agencies compared to 376 on 1 January 2012.
  • The overall number of annual work units within the government in 2012 was 205,000, which was an increase of 4,000 annual work units compared to 2011.
  • Most of the agencies are small – more than 40 per cent have fewer than 50 annual work units. However, the smaller agencies account for a very small proportion of the overall number of annual work units.
  • Citizens have different attitudes towards the way in which the agencies carry out their work. In 2012 we surveyed the citizens' attitudes towards six agencies. The Swedish Public Employment Service, the Swedish Social Insurance Agency, the Enforcement Authority, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the National Food Agency and the National Agency for Education. The respondents proved most positive towards the work carried out by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the National Food Agency and the Enforcement Authority. The Swedish Public Employment Service proved to be less appreciated by the citizens.
  • The citizens were more satisfied with local government activities than government activities.