Jonas Himmelstrand on Sweden’s failed daycare experiment

– Too little time for parenting and too much daycare is a growing problem for Swedish society

– Ninety-two percent of young Swedish children are now in heavily subsidized daycare and the quality of daycare is declining

– So are Swedish education standards   

– Most Swedish parents would prefer to look after their young children at home

“Sweden is the pioneering nation in comprehensive highly subsidized daycare, a model which was put into practice 35 years ago. Today a full 92% of all 18 month to 5 year olds are in daycare. Swedish women are in employed work to higher degree than most European countries.

Sweden also tops many statistics concerning welfare with low child poverty, high life expectancy, low infant mortality and admired social welfare system. Sweden should top every statistic of well-being and learning too, but it does not.

Since the since the early nineties Sweden has seen some pretty disturbing developments which can easily related to its family policies. Psychosomatic disorders and mild psychological problems are escalating among Swedish youth at a faster rate than any of 11 comparable European countries.

Swedish schools have gone from a top international position 30 years ago to a mere average position in the world today. Behavioral problems in Swedish schools are among the worst in Europe. Sick-leave among Swedish women is high, and many women retire early. Day care staff top the sick leave statistics.

Parental abilities among Swedish parents are plummeting, also in the middle class.

But the problems don’t stop there. There are also effects on politics and to democracy. The quality of Swedish day care is deteriorating.

Today, neither experts, nor day care staff or parents consider day care to be of top quality anymore. Experts point out that the quality has gone beyond a level where it could even be harmful to sensitive children. The problem seems to be that when child-rearing becomes a political responsibility, it will also be managed by political rules as an arena of political ideology, and as one item of many on the budget list.

Clearly, in Sweden today child care is ruled more by economics and political ideology than by parental love. Obviously, parents are willing to sacrifice more for their children, than is possible by even the best democracy in today’s world. Child care is not a suitable issue for politics, it must be an arena for parental decision-making based on the individual child’s needs.”