Bloomberg Businessweek

The Thinning Swedish Welfare State

The system is under strain from demographic changes and the refugee crisis

When the maternity ward at a local hospital in the Solleftea district of northern Sweden was shuttered early last year, expectant parents had no option but to brave a more than 100-kilometer (60-mile) drive to the nearest alternative. That’s why local midwives began teaching couples a new skill: how to deliver a baby in a car.

A birthing course in response to leaner times would have been unusual even in a cash-strapped country. But Sweden is in the midst of its longest economic expansion in at least four decades, and the nation’s state coffers are brimming. The government, which has posted budget surpluses every year since it came to

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