About Early Child Care in Sweden

From: Jonas Himmelstrand, founder and director
The Mireja Institute, Sweden
In Sweden 93% of all children aged 18 months-5 years attend day care, or preschool as it is called in Sweden. Daycare is not yet formally compulsory, but the tax system and the day care subsidies are designed to make home care very expensive and demanding large financial sacrifices. Also the Swedish Government propaganda about the blessings of day care, even for one-year olds, is very intense. Not having your child in day care after parental leave is considered strange and even weird by a large part of the general public.
The use of highly subsidized early day care has steadily increased since its inception in 1985. The Swedish Government claims that research shows that children in day care develop and learn much better than home cared children. But the Swedish statistics tell another story. Psychosomatic symptoms such as regular headaches, tummy aches, worries and anxiety tripled for girls and doubled for boys during the years 1985-2005. A Government investigation quoted a study showing that Sweden has the worst development in psychological health among our youth in relation to  eleven comparable European countries. The school results went down during the same period and are now, in some scholastic subjects, below the OECD average. The quality of parenthood has deteriorated, and adult sick leave is high, especially for women. As Sweden is materially rich with a wealth of public social insurances and good wealth distribution and low child poverty this is hardly the cause. The most realistic cause is the early separation of children and parents for too many hours per working day as strongly encouraged by our Government.

I am often asked for a collected paper on these findings. I have written a book in Swedish, and I am working on a shorter version in English. However summaries of these facts can be found in a few written statements and a 60 minute speech recorded in Canada last year which is now on YouTube. Most of these written or video statements are listed on the web page of The Mireja Institute think-tank, http://www.mireja.org/articles.lasso.

Here is selection of some of the best ones in chronological order, oldest first:

“Secure children – Secure parents – The role of family in the 21st century” http://www.stratletter.com/dec10speech.html
Statement given at a Swedish Parliament seminar on December 10, 2008. The first high-level speech based on my book.


“Are the Swedish state family policies delivering?”
Statement given on May 25, 2010 at the EU-sponsored FamilyPlatform conference in Lisbon. Gives a short overview.


“Busting the Myths of Swedish Family Policies”
YouTube recording of a 60 minute speech I gave in Ottawa on May 5, 2011. The most extensive presentation recorded or written.


“Work-Family Balance: The importance of Family Focused Solutions”
Statement given at a United Nations Expert Group Meeting in New York on June 3, 2011. The shortest presentation, but has extensive references.


When my English book gets published, hopefully during 2013, there will be information about it on The Mireja Institute website.


Jonas Himmelstrand, founder and director
The Mireja Institute
Box 1454, 114 79 Stockholm, Sweden.



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