Home

Norway vs. Sweden

Economy

NorwaySweden
Economy - overview

Norway has a stable economy with a vibrant private sector, a large state sector, and an extensive social safety net. Norway opted out of the EU during a referendum in November 1994. However, as a member of the European Economic Area, Norway partially participates in the EU’s single market and contributes sizably to the EU budget.

The country is richly endowed with natural resources such as oil and gas, fish, forests, and minerals. Norway is a leading producer and the world’s second largest exporter of seafood, after China. The government manages the country’s petroleum resources through extensive regulation. The petroleum sector provides about 9% of jobs, 12% of GDP, 13% of the state’s revenue, and 37% of exports, according to official national estimates. Norway is one of the world's leading petroleum exporters, although oil production is close to 50% below its peak in 2000. Gas production, conversely, has more than doubled since 2000. Although oil production is historically low, it rose in 2016 for the third consecutive year due to the higher production of existing oil fields and to new fields coming on stream. Norway’s domestic electricity production relies almost entirely on hydropower.

In anticipation of eventual declines in oil and gas production, Norway saves state revenue from petroleum sector activities in the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, valued at over $1 trillion at the end of 2017. To help balance the federal budget each year, the government follows a "fiscal rule," which states that spending of revenues from petroleum and fund investments shall correspond to the expected real rate of return on the fund, an amount it estimates is sustainable over time. In February 2017, the government revised the expected rate of return for the fund downward from 4% to 3%.

After solid GDP growth in the 2004-07 period, the economy slowed in 2008, and contracted in 2009, before returning to modest, positive growth from 2010 to 2017. The Norwegian economy has been adjusting to lower energy prices, as demonstrated by growth in labor force participation and employment in 2017. GDP growth was about 1.5% in 2017, driven largely by domestic demand, which has been boosted by the rebound in the labor market and supportive fiscal policies. Economic growth is expected to remain constant or improve slightly in the next few years.

Sweden’s small, open, and competitive economy has been thriving and Sweden has achieved an enviable standard of living with its combination of free-market capitalism and extensive welfare benefits. Sweden remains outside the euro zone largely out of concern that joining the European Economic and Monetary Union would diminish the country’s sovereignty over its welfare system.

 

Timber, hydropower, and iron ore constitute the resource base of a manufacturing economy that relies heavily on foreign trade. Exports, including engines and other machines, motor vehicles, and telecommunications equipment, account for more than 44% of GDP. Sweden enjoys a current account surplus of about 5% of GDP, which is one of the highest margins in Europe.

 

GDP grew an estimated 3.3% in 2016 and 2017 driven largely by investment in the construction sector. Swedish economists expect economic growth to ease slightly in the coming years as this investment subsides. Global economic growth boosted exports of Swedish manufactures further, helping drive domestic economic growth in 2017. The Central Bank is keeping an eye on deflationary pressures and bank observers expect it to maintain an expansionary monetary policy in 2018. Swedish prices and wages have grown only slightly over the past few years, helping to support the country’s competitiveness.

 

In the short and medium term, Sweden’s economic challenges include providing affordable housing and successfully integrating migrants into the labor market.

GDP (purchasing power parity)
$381.2 billion (2017 est.)
$374 billion (2016 est.)
$370 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

$518 billion (2017 est.)
$507.3 billion (2016 est.)
$494 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP - real growth rate
0.86% (2019 est.)
1.36% (2018 est.)
2.75% (2017 est.)
1.29% (2019 est.)
2.06% (2018 est.)
2.82% (2017 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)
$72,100 (2017 est.)
$71,200 (2016 est.)
$71,100 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

$51,200 (2017 est.)
$50,800 (2016 est.)
$50,100 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP - composition by sector
agriculture: 2.3% (2017 est.)
industry: 33.7% (2017 est.)
services: 64% (2017 est.)
agriculture: 1.6% (2017 est.)
industry: 33% (2017 est.)
services: 65.4% (2017 est.)
Population below poverty line
NA
15% (2014 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share
lowest 10%: 3.8%
highest 10%: 21.2% (2014)
lowest 10%: 3.4%
highest 10%: 24% (2012)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)
1.9% (2017 est.)
3.6% (2016 est.)
1.9% (2017 est.)
1.1% (2016 est.)
Labor force
2.699 million (2020 est.)
5.029 million (2020 est.)
Labor force - by occupation
agriculture: 2.1%
industry: 19.3%
services: 78.6% (2016 est.)
agriculture: 2%
industry: 12%
services: 86% (2014 est.)
Unemployment rate
3.72% (2019 est.)
3.89% (2018 est.)
6.78% (2019 est.)
6.33% (2018 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index
26.8 (2010)
25.8 (1995)
24.9 (2013)
25 (1992)
Budget
revenues: 217.1 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 199.5 billion (2017 est.)
revenues: 271.2 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 264.4 billion (2017 est.)
Industries
petroleum and gas, shipping, fishing, aquaculture, food processing, shipbuilding, pulp and paper products, metals, chemicals, timber, mining, textiles
iron and steel, precision equipment (bearings, radio and telephone parts, armaments), wood pulp and paper products, processed foods, motor vehicles
Industrial production growth rate
1.5% (2017 est.)
4.1% (2017 est.)
Agriculture - products
barley, wheat, potatoes; pork, beef, veal, milk; fish
barley, wheat, sugar beets; meat, milk
Exports
$102.8 billion (2017 est.)
$88.88 billion (2016 est.)
$165.6 billion (2017 est.)
$151.4 billion (2016 est.)
Exports - commodities
petroleum and petroleum products, machinery and equipment, metals, chemicals, ships, fish
machinery (26%), motor vehicles, paper products, pulp and wood, iron and steel products, chemicals (2016 est.)
Exports - partners
UK 21.1%, Germany 15.5%, Netherlands 9.9%, Sweden 6.6%, France 6.4%, Belgium 4.8%, Denmark 4.7%, US 4.6% (2017)
Germany 11%, Norway 10.2%, Finland 6.9%, US 6.9%, Denmark 6.9%, UK 6.2%, Netherlands 5.5%, China 4.5%, Belgium 4.4%, France 4.2% (2017)
Imports
$95.06 billion (2017 est.)
$74.94 billion (2016 est.)
$153.2 billion (2017 est.)
$140.2 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commodities
machinery and equipment, chemicals, metals, foodstuffs
machinery, petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, motor vehicles, iron and steel; foodstuffs, clothing
Imports - partners
Sweden 11.4%, Germany 11%, China 9.8%, US 6.8%, South Korea 6.7%, Denmark 5.4%, UK 4.7% (2017)
Germany 18.7%, Netherlands 8.9%, Norway 7.7%, Denmark 7.2%, China 5.5%, UK 5.1%, Finland 4.7%, Belgium 4.7% (2017)
Debt - external
$642.3 billion (31 March 2016 est.)
$640.1 billion (31 March 2015 est.)
note: Norway is a net external creditor
$939.9 billion (31 March 2016 est.)
$929.4 billion (31 March 2015 est.)
Exchange rates
Norwegian kroner (NOK) per US dollar -
8.308 (2017 est.)
8.3978 (2016 est.)
8.3978 (2015 est.)
8.0646 (2014 est.)
6.3021 (2013 est.)
Swedish kronor (SEK) per US dollar -
8.442 (2017 est.)
8.5605 (2016 est.)
8.5605 (2015 est.)
8.4335 (2014 est.)
6.8612 (2013 est.)
Fiscal year
calendar year
calendar year
Public debt
36.5% of GDP (2017 est.)
36.4% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: data cover general government debt and include debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data exclude treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data exclude debt issued by subnational entities, as well as intragovernmental debt; intragovernmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment; debt instruments for the social funds are not sold at public auctions

40.8% of GDP (2017 est.)
42.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: data cover general government debt and include debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities, as well as intragovernmental debt; intragovernmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment; debt instruments for the social funds are not sold at public auctions

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold
$65.92 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$57.46 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$62.22 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$59.39 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Current Account Balance
$16.656 billion (2019 est.)
$31.111 billion (2018 est.)
$22.339 billion (2019 est.)
$13.902 billion (2018 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)
$398.8 billion (2017 est.)
$535.6 billion (2017 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home
$236.5 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$219.1 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$458.2 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$390.5 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad
$196.3 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$191.7 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$523.5 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$479.3 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares
$193.9 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$219.4 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$265.4 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$560.5 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$470.1 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$581.2 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
Central bank discount rate
6.25% (31 December 2010)
1.75% (31 December 2009)
-0.5% (31 December 2017)
-0.5% (31 December 2016)

note: the Discount rate was abolished in 2002, and replaced by a "Reference rate" with no bearing on monetary policy; the rate quoted here is the Reference rate

Commercial bank prime lending rate
2.89% (31 December 2017 est.)
2.96% (31 December 2016 est.)
1.93% (31 December 2017 est.)
2% (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of domestic credit
$640.4 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$571.4 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$929.1 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$749.6 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of narrow money
$237.7 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$214 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$329.2 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$273.9 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of broad money
$237.7 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$214 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$329.2 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$273.9 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues
54.4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
50.6% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)
4.4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
1.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24
total: 9.7%
male: 10.7%
female: 8.6% (2018 est.)
total: 16.8%
male: 18%
female: 15.5% (2018 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use
household consumption: 44.8% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 24% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 24.1% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 4.8% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 35.5% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -33.2% (2017 est.)
household consumption: 44.1% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 26% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 24.9% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 0.8% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 45.3% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -41.1% (2017 est.)
Gross national saving
34.3% of GDP (2017 est.)
33.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
35.5% of GDP (2015 est.)
28.9% of GDP (2017 est.)
28.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
28.8% of GDP (2015 est.)

Source: CIA Factbook