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Marie Nordfeldt and Anna Carrigan (Ersta Sköndal University College)

Stockholm – Introduction

Local background of the social innovations

Stockholm is among the fastest growing metropolitan areas in Europe. In an OECD territorial review from 2006, Stockholm was stated to be “one of the most successful metropolitan regions in the OECD”. The strengths of Stockholm that were highlighted in the report were research and development, concentration of advanced business, logistical and financial services, and specialisation in high-growth, high-tech sectors, notably information and communications technology (ICT). Weaknesses that were noted as risks that could undermine the region’s competitiveness in the long run, were factors such as “lack of new high-growth firms to stimulate the regional innovation system, challenges in the labour market especially with regard to the integration of immigrants, housing shortages and a transport network that has failed to keep pace with growth in the region” (OECD 2006).

The population of the city of Stockholm is growing by around 17,000 persons per year and the county of Stockholm is growing by between 30,000 to 40,000 new inhabitants every year. This puts enormous pressure on the housing market, and the construction of new housing has not kept pace with this demand, which has led to a severe housing shortage in the whole Stockholm region (Länsstyrelsen 2012; Boverket 2012a). Stockholm has an organised housing queue for rental apartments, but the number of years that one needs to be registered in the queue before being allocated an apartment is constantly increasing (Nordfeldt and Wiklund 2013). Young people and recently immigrated persons are especially vulnerable on the housing market. Landlord demands, such as references and a certain level of income, make it difficult for those entering the housing market for the first time (Nordfeldt 2012). Twenty-three out of 26 municipalities in the Stockholm region indicate a lack of housing for young people, and 21 of these also report an overall housing shortage (Boverket 2012a, 2012b).

In recent years, the problem of the housing shortage has been heavily debated, in the mass media, at the local policy level, and by organisations/networks of citizens. The latter plead for more rental units and protest against transformation and the selling of municipal housing stock. Among local politicians, there is a consensus that there is an urgent need to speed up the construction of new housing, but there are different views within local government between the majority and the opposition on how this should be achieved.

Overall, the employment rate is higher in Stockholm than on average in Sweden, but there are substantial differences between groups in the population. The unemployment rates for young people are substantially higher than for the older groups. The fastest growth in temporary employment is in the group of young adults. One obvious barrier to young people entering the labour market is low levels of education. Another striking difference in the unemployment figures is between people born in Sweden, the Nordic countries, EU/EFTA and outside of these regions. Unemployment rates for the first two categories have been somewhat reduced during the 2000, while for the latter two groups, there has been a limited increase. However, for people born outside of EU/EFTA, the unemployment rates are substantially higher than for the other groups. Young people and recently immigrated persons are also more likely to find temporary employment in the so-called “grey” labour market than other employees (Nordfeldt 2012, WP3 report).

Central issues in the local policy debate are how to find new jobs in areas of Stockholm with high unemployment, in order to counteract the mismatch between existing jobs and the unemployed. Solutions that are put forward in the political debate are different forms of support for new start-up enterprises. This has been highlighted as a way to create new jobs in the outer suburbs where the unemployment rates are high. Unemployment among young people is also an issue on the political agenda, but there have been few suggestions for realistic solutions. (Segnestam-Larsson & Carrigan 2013, WP4 report)

Segregation and segmentation in Stockholm

In Stockholm there is clear ethnic segregation as well as segmentation. This is especially pronounced between city districts but also between neighbourhoods within the same district, consisting of both affluent residential areas and “Million Homes Programme” areas (Bråmå et al. 2006). Some suburbs in Stockholm metropolitan areas with a large immigrant population are areas that can be defined as resource poor. These areas mainly consist of large housing estates that were built during the “Million Homes Programme” when a million dwellings were built during a period of 10 years from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. These large housing estates are today associated with segregation and social problems. Refugees and immigrants, primarily from outside the OECD region, have been directed towards these so-called “under-privileged” suburbs (Nordfeldt 2012, WP3 report)

Diversity and choice – catchwords in local political debate in Stockholm.

In the field of social welfare, the ruling coalition within the local government – since 2006 consisting of the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, the Centre Party and the Christian Democratic Party – has pursued a strong policy of marketing and privatisation. This has been implemented within the field of health care and social services (primarily within elderly care) and the housing market.

Deregulation and legislation on competitive procurement (LOU), ideas of “user choice” and a new legislation – the Law on Freedom of Choice” (Lagen om valfrihet, LOV) has made it possible for municipalities to engage alternative service providers in social welfare. In Stockholm, the law (LOV) is applied in various fields, e.g. in home-care services for the elderly, in daily activities and assistance for disabled persons, and regarding residential homes (vård- och omsorgsboende).

Another policy implemented is the privatisation of the housing market. In Stockholm, this has been manifested by transformation of rental apartments to owner-occupied apartments, especially in the centre of the city and the inner suburbs. Tenants living in more distant suburbs have been less interested in buying their rented apartments. Some real estate has instead been sold off to private landlords. This transformation peaked in early 2000 and then again in the late 2000s (Nordfeldt & Wiklund 2013).

Stockholm administration

Stockholm is organised into 17 field-specific departments, 14 district administrations and 16 municipal companies owned by the Stockholm City Hall AB. The district administrations are responsible for municipal services and care for those who live in the district: preschool, elderly care, support and services to people with disabilities, social psychiatry, social care for individuals and families, consumer advice and leisure and cultural activities.

Social innovations in Stockholm – three examples

In the following section, we will describe the three social innovations that have been the focus of our research in Stockholm. These are the (1) “Filur project” within the local labour market; (2) “Children of Single (Lone) Mothers Project” targeting single mothers with low income, and (3) The “Miljardprogrammet” (“the billion project”) which is a citizen/activist-driven project related to housing.

The case studies in Stockholm have been chosen according to a broad definition of innovations, as ideas or approaches that are new in a particular context, but implemented in practice to some degree. The innovations combine the policy fields and target groups highlighted by the WILCO project in different ways.

The empirical material for this report has been collected from websites, various official documents and through interviews with staff and users of the studied projects. The interviews form the primary basis for the descriptions of the respective innovations, also including interviews that are not directly referred to in the text below.


Content keywords

Keywords: Activation | Activation policies | Case management | Child care | Child education | Citizen initiatives | Citizenship | Civil society | Co-funding | Co-production | Collaboration | Community | Community development | Democracy | Deregulation | Development | Diffusion | Disability | Employment services | Empowerment | Enabling | Entrepreneurialism | Entrepreneurship | European Social Fund | Family caregivers | Family Centres | Family needs | Family-minded | Gentrification | Governance | Grassroots initiatives | Housing corporation | Housing policy | Incubator | Integration | Labour market | Labour market integration | Local context | Local governance | Local governments | Local initiatives | Local welfare | Local welfare system | Lone mothers | Lone parent support | Micro-credit | Municipality | Neighbourhood | Neighbourhood revitalisation | Network | Networking | Participation | Partnerships | Personalising support | Political administrative system | Precarious working conditions | Preschool education | Privatisation | Public administration | Regional government | Segregation | Single mothers | Social and solidarity-based economy (SSE) | Social capital | Social cohesion | Social economy | Social enterprise | Social entrepreneurship | Social housing | Social housing policies | Social inclusion | Social investment | Social media | Subsidiarity | Sustainability | Third sector organisations | Unemployment | Urban gardening | Urban renewal | User choice | Welfare governance | Welfare mixes | Workfare | Young mothers | Youth unemployment

Stockholm – Introduction

Categories: Introduction