With prices having skyrocketed across all sectors, likely as a result of massive COVID-19 government spending compounded by the economic fallout from the sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine, an increasing number of Swedes are falling into poverty and are unable to afford basic necessities.
Despite the fact that absolute poverty in Sweden has decreased since the 1990s, the gap between the high and low earners continues to increase. Today, over half a million Swedes now find themselves unable to pay for the most basic expenses, with more and more people having to turn to charitable organizations in order not to starve, SvD Näringsliv reports.
As increasing numbers of Swedes fall into absolute poverty, demand for food mission stores which offer the county’s most destitute a chance to buy food donated by the grocery industry at heavily discounted prices has increased considerably.
Members of such food mission stores can purchase groceries for substantially cheaper than they otherwise would be able to at typical grocery stores. However, to become a member, one must earn less than SEK 11,190 (1,000 euros) per month after tax.
Speaking on the increased demand for food mission stores, Simon Stegrud, the head of Matmissionen, an organization which seeks to provide food for the needy, told SvD: “The number of members has more than doubled in just nine months. So has the number of shops. In February we had two, but now we have five and plan to open even more.”
For Stegrud, the increase in memberships has come as a result of inflation, which disproportionately affects those with less money. He told Sweden’s second-biggest daily newspaper that roughly half of the customers are families with children and poor pensioners, and added that people with immigrant backgrounds also comprise a large proportion of those in need.
For a single household in a Swedish municipality with over 75,000 inhabitants (excluding Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö), the poverty line sits at just over SEK 9,500 (850 euros) per month after tax. For a family of four—two parents and two children—the line sits at slightly over SEK 23,000 (2,058 euros).
“These people live in absolute poverty. They can’t afford the most basic necessities and many of them are obviously struggling financially,” Carina Mood, a professor of sociology at Stockholm University who researches poverty in Sweden, told SvD.