Country Profile of Sweden
Main statistical agency
Main statistical agency name
Statistics Sweden (SCB)
Position in the government
Statistics Sweden is an administrative agency that reports to the Ministry of Finance.
Organizational structure and finance
Statistics Sweden has thirteen departments of which three are supportive departments and one is working with international consulting activities.
Population and Welfare
Regions and Environment
Director General's Office
Research and Development Department
Data Collection Individuals and Households
Data Collection Enterprises and Organisations
International Consulting Office
According to the government instructions for Statistics Sweden there is a Governing Council consisting of not more than 10 persons including the Director General. The Director General shall be the chair of the Governing Council. Statistics Sweden’s organisation also includes The Council for Official Statistics consisting of the Director General of Statistics Sweden as chair and six other members appointed by the chair after consultation with all statistical agencies, The Scientific Council and The Consumer Price Index Board. According to a decision by the Director General of Statistics Sweden there is also a National Accounts Board.
Approximate figures: 1400 employees (560 in Stockholm, 680 in Örebro and 140 field interviewers around the country)
Half of Statistics Sweden’s activities are financed by appropriations and half by commissioned services.
Multi-annual or annual work program
Statistics Sweden intermittently prepares a longsighted strategic plan and annual budget material for the government which includes proposals for new statistics and improvements for the next three years, together with an estimate of the income from commissioned services for the next three years. Statistics Sweden also prepares an annual development plan including prioritisations for the next coming years. The annual business plan is based on the ordinance containing directives for Statistics Sweden, the annual appropriation directions from the government, the strategic plan and the development plan.
Statistics Sweden is a central government agency for official statistics and other government statistics and in this capacity also has the responsibility for coordinating and supporting the Swedish system for official statistics. Statistics Sweden shall also be responsible for coordinating the reporting of statistical data to international organisations and for producing statistics on commission from a governmental agency or from other clients.
Statistics Sweden's mission:
In order to supply the public, users and customers with high quality statistics to be used as a basis for decision-making, debate and research, Statistics Sweden shall:
- develop, produce and disseminate statistics,
- actively participate in statistical cooperation on an international level and
- coordinate and support the Swedish system for official statistics.
Statistics Sweden's vision is to be a world leader in the development, production and dissemination of statistics.
Brief history and other relevant background information
Brief history and other relevant background information
The groundwork for Swedish population statistics was laid by the Church Ordinance of 1686, which required registration of all citizens living in the parishes.
In 1749 the concept of the “Collection of Tables” (Tabellverket) was introduced, marking the start of regular compilation of population statistics, which was quite a unique phenomenon. Sweden - and Finland, which was then under Swedish rule - are the only countries that possess continuous records of their population so far back in time.
Initially, the responsibility for the Collection of Tables rested on one clerk who worked in one of the standing committees of the Swedish Parliament. It was not until 1756 that a separate public agency, the “Tables Commission” (Tabellkommissionen) was established. Its task was to ensure that the collection of tables ran smoothly.
Statistics Sweden was established in 1858. At the start, its operations focused mainly on population statistics, but gradually other areas of statistics were added, such as agricultural statistics, statistics on local government finances, savings banks and relief to the poor.
The Tables Commission ceased to exist in 1858 and was replaced by the Statistical Committee, a body that advised and coordinated official statistics. The number of members was set at nine, with the Minister of Public Administration serving as Chairman and the Head of Statistics Sweden as Secretary.
In 1886, the Statistical Committee was replaced by the Statistical Tables Commission, which continued to operate until 1948, when it was formally dissolved. The Head of Statistics Sweden chaired the Commission.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, various government agencies produced statistics in their different subject matter areas.
1962 marked the beginning of centralisation for public statistics. Statistics Sweden was given responsibility for statistics in most of the sectors of society and was radically enlarged and reorganised. In 1965 Statistics Sweden acquired a Governing Council and a Scientific Council.
During all this time, Statistics Sweden had been located in Stockholm. However, in 1968 Statistics Sweden began to relocate some of its operations to Örebro. Today more than half of the staff is situated in Örebro, while the Director General’s office is in Stockholm. Reorganisations have taken place in 1971, 1976, 1984, 1993, 1998 and 2006.
On 1 July 1994 the responsibility for official statistics in specific sectoral areas was transferred from Statistics Sweden to 24 other government agencies. Statistics Sweden continued to be responsible for multi-sectoral statistics and statistics of a general nature such as the national accounts, population statistics and labour force statistics.
One of the main purposes of the reform was to give users more influence over the statistics. It was expected that the reform would result in greater relevance of the statistics for their users, more flexibility of the statistical system and improved efficiency of statistics production.
In accordance with its directives, Statistics Sweden had already been responsible for coordinating and monitoring official statistics. This role was strengthened somewhat, e.g. in that all the agencies are requested to submit annual descriptions of their statistical products to Statistics Sweden.
In 1998, an evaluation of the statistics reform of 1994 was made. The evaluation showed that official statistics continued to function efficiently after the reform. However, coordination and the overall view of the statistical system had suffered. The evaluation report recommended that a council for Sweden’s official statistics should be established to improve coordination and the overall view of the statistical system.
A Council for Official Statistics was duly established in 2002. The Council, which is an advisory body to the Director General of Statistics Sweden who also chairs the Council, shall consider matters of principles regarding the availability, quality and usefulness of the official statistics, as well as issues on facilitating the response process for data providers. The Council shall prepare an annual report on the official statistics, compile an annual publishing plan, and maintain a register of the statistical agencies and their products. The Council shall also work for cooperation between the statistical agencies, and develop and administer a statistics network.
The Official Statistics Act contains rules concerning areas of application, purpose and designation of official statistics, obligation to provide information, processing of personal data, deletion of information, information to the registered person, appeals, penalties and fines in case of non-compliance with the obligation to provide information.
The Official Statistics Act covers: Official statistics, protection of data, data providing obligation, treatment of data for individual persons, hand-over of data in special cases, sorting out, sanctions.
Other producers of official statistics
Other producers of official statistics
There are 24 other government agencies responsible for certain subject areas of official statistics. Statistics Sweden is responsible for 40 per cent of the products or surveys in official statistics and produces half of the surveys which other agencies are responsible for, in total 70 per cent of all surveys in official statistics.
There is a distinction in Sweden between official statistics and other public statistics. The government decides on subject matter areas for official statistics and the government agencies which will be responsible for these statistics. The agency in charge decides on which statistics shall be official and marked with the designation Official Statistics of Sweden or with the special symbol. There are regulations on official statistics in the Official Statistics Act and Ordinance and in Statistics Sweden’s Regulations for the official release and publishing of official statistics. There are also guidelines for decisions on content and scope of official statistics as well as on quality and publishing.
The Official Statistics Act states that official statistics are statistics for public information, planning and research purposes in specified areas produced by appointed public agencies in accordance with the provisions issued by the government. Official statistics shall be objective and made available, free of charge, to the public. Further, they are to be produced and published in a manner that protects the privacy of individuals. All agencies responsible for official statistics should each year provide an updated description for every product for which they are responsible. The description is available to the users on the Internet.
Statistical advisory bodies
Statistical advisory bodies
Statistics Sweden has established 13 advisory bodies or Programme Councils for different topic areas comprising relevant user representatives. They meet about three times a year and are to give advice on priorities and development and also follow up the plans. Some of the other agencies responsible for official statistics have established similar advisory bodies
Most recent population census
1 November 1990
Access to administrative data
Statistics Sweden has access to all administrative data needed. This access also applies for the other government agencies.
The Secrecy Act together with a secrecy policy and a security instruction within Statistics Sweden assure data confidentiality.
Release calendar (existence, when and how published)
An annual release plan for all official statistics is published on the website of Statistics Sweden. The plan is continuously revised.
Every year, Statistics Sweden publishes about 430 publications and 350 press releases. The website is visited by 2.1 million visitors at http://www.scb.se. Details about publications in various forms and about on-line information can be found there.
Languages of main publications
How are data disseminated (Paper, CD Rom, Website, online databases, databanks)?
Everything is published on the website but there are also other formats.
Availability of microdata for research purposes
According to the main principle, confidential data may be released to a third party only for the purpose of statistics production, statistical analyses and research. Statistics Sweden provides access to data that does not allow direct or indirect identification of individuals or of other data subjects such as enterprises. In addition to laws and regulations on data confidentiality, Statistics Sweden follows a screening procedure requiring a written application from the researcher. In the application the researcher is required to describe the project, the variables and periods during which data are used in the research, and also to specify the people taking part in the project. If the project involves processing of sensitive personal data the researcher is required to add an approval of a research committee. Both the anonymous and the de-identified data are in principle available for the researcher only for a specified period, for a specified project and for specified people in an institution. When microdata are released to a researcher at a private institute or organisation, Statistics Sweden imposes legal restrictions limiting the researcher’s right to re-communicate or use the information. If data are released to a researcher in another agency (e.g. a university), data will also be confidential at the agency receiving data, according to the Swedish Secrecy Act. In addition, researchers at other agencies normally sign a general confidentiality statement when receiving the data. The main method of giving access to microdata for research has been to deliver the data to the user by sending a micro disc by post. However, since 2005 it is possible for researchers to obtain access to microdata online (remote access).