It's raining men! Sweden sees historic gender balance shift

May 30, 2016 by Karl Ritter
In this Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013 file photo, Sweden fans pose with a Swedish flag before the World Cup qualifying soccer match between Sweden and Portugal in Stockholm, Sweden. For the first time since record-keeping began in 1749, Sweden now has more men than women. Swedes don't quite know what to make of this sudden male surplus, which is highly unusual in the West, where women historically have been in the majority in almost every country. But it may be a sign of things to come in Europe as changes in life expectancy and migration transform demographics. The tipping point in Sweden happened in March 2015, when population statistics showed 277 more men than women. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)

Famous for its efforts to put women on an equal footing with men, Sweden is experiencing a gender balance shift that has caught the country by surprise: For the first time since record-keeping began in 1749, it now has more men than women.

Swedes don't quite know what to make of this sudden male surplus, which is highly unusual in the West, where women historically have been in the majority in almost every country. But it may be a sign of things to come in Europe as changes in life expectancy and migration transform demographics.

"This is a novel phenomenon for Europe," said Francesco Billari, a University of Oxford demographer who is president of the European Association for Population Studies. "We as researchers have not been on top of this."

The tipping point in Sweden happened in March last year, when population statistics showed 277 more men than women. The gap has since grown to beyond 12,000. While that's still small in a population of almost 10 million, it's "not unreasonable" to suspect that Sweden will have a big male surplus in the future, said Tomas Johansson, a population expert at the national statistics agency, SCB.

Despite a natural birth rate of about 105 boys born for every 100 girls, European women have historically outnumbered men because they live longer. An Associated Press analysis of national and European Union population statistics suggests women will remain in the majority in most European countries for decades to come. But the number of men per 100 women, known as the sex ratio, is increasing, slowly in Europe as a whole and quickly in some northern and central European countries.

Norway swung to a male surplus in 2011, four years before Sweden, while Denmark and Switzerland are nearing a sex ratio of 100. Germany, which had an unnatural deficit of men after two world wars, has seen its sex ratio jump from 87 in 1960 to 96 last year. Meanwhile, Britain's sex ratio rose from 93 to 97 in the same period. British statistics officials project that men will be in the majority by 2050.

Researchers don't have a clear idea of what happens to a society when the population becomes more masculine.

Tomas Sobotka, of the Vienna Institute of Demography, said in theory a male surplus could increase the bargaining power of women by allowing them to be choosier when picking a partner. But they could also face an increased risk of harassment from frustrated males struggling to find a mate.

Sweden's rapid shift to a male majority—which experts didn't see coming just 10 years ago—has triggered debate among some feminists about the potential impact on women in one of the world's most egalitarian countries.

Statistics officials say Sweden's demographic shift is mainly due to men catching up with women in terms of life expectancy. But the arrival in recent years of tens of thousands of unaccompanied teenage boys from Afghanistan, Syria and North Africa is also having a significant impact.

Sweden's biggest male surplus is in the 15-19 age group, where there are 108 boys for every 100 girls. That imbalance could grow to 115-to-100 this year when the impact of last year's record number of asylum-seekers—including more than 35,000 unaccompanied minors—is reflected in the population statistics.

Valerie Hudson, director of a program on women, peace and security at Texas A&M University, said this should make Swedes concerned, because her research has linked skewed sex ratios in China and India to more violence against women and higher crime levels.

What's happening in Sweden, Hudson said, "is one of the most dramatic alterations of demography over such a short period of time that I've ever seen." She called it ironic that a country considered a beacon of women's rights isn't paying more attention to the issue.

"Are people thinking about whether this could undermine the gains that have been made by Swedish women over the last 150 years?" Hudson said.

Other feminist researchers disagree.

"Hogwash," said Jacqui True, a professor of politics and international relations at Monash University in Australia.

How many men there are in a population matters less than how much a society is shaped by "hyper-masculine" gender characteristics such as aggression and hierarchies where males are preferred, True said.

Annick Wibben, of the University of San Francisco, said gender equality is so "deeply embedded" in Swedish society that comparisons with China or India, where sex-selective abortions have resulted in unnatural surpluses of men, don't tell you much.

"The way in which masculinity works in different societies needs to be taken into account," she said.

In Sweden, there's been little discussion about the surplus, perhaps because of the link to immigration, a sensitive subject in the Nordic country.

Equality Minister Asa Regner, of the governing Social Democrats, twice turned down requests to be interviewed. The main opposition party, the center-right Moderates, also declined to comment.

Elsewhere in Europe, the gender balance is stable or tipping further in favor of women in some countries, including Italy, Spain and Greece. But overall, the proportion of men in the 28-nation European Union is increasing slowly, according to the bloc's statistics agency, Eurostat.

Last year there were 12 million more women than men in the EU, which has a population of just over 500 million people. That gap is projected to narrow in coming decades "mainly because of the decreasing gap in life expectancy," said Eurostat spokeswoman Baiba Grandovska.

Experts say men, particularly in western Europe, are living healthier lives than their fathers, drinking and smoking less, and benefiting from better treatment of heart disease. In wealthy countries, men have moved away from mining and other dangerous occupations to safer white-collar jobs.

Eurostat projects the male-female gap will dip below 1 million in 2080. But such projections are highly uncertain, as the Swedish example shows.

In 2003, Sweden's SCB projected that a male surplus wouldn't happen until 2050. Three years later it moved up the date by 10 years. It barely had time to recalibrate its projections before the moment arrived last year when men outnumbered women.

SCB expert Lena Lundkvist said the gender balance could shift rapidly in other places as well.

"In some countries, the mortality rate for men is still very high," she said. "If men change their behavior, things are going to move quickly in those countries, too."

Explore further: Injury deaths and life-expectancy gap between US and other high-income countries

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ab3a
4 / 5 (10) May 30, 2016
Is this with or without the immigration surge of recent years?

The immigrants from the Middle East and Asia are overwhelmingly male.
Ultron
3 / 5 (20) May 30, 2016
Increasing muslim immigrants = increasing rate of rapes. But nobody will dare to write about it officially because of censorship disguised as political correctness.
Guy_Underbridge
3.6 / 5 (9) May 30, 2016
ab3a, the answer you seek is cleverly hidden within the text of the article.
MrVibrating
2.3 / 5 (6) May 30, 2016
..which also concludes that the ratio is determined by how "dominant" the males are, implying the historic imbalance is at least partly due to a cultural tradition of gender equality..

But i'm sure the new arrivals are throroughly egalitarian, and besides, a tiny minority of 'diversity' is only something to be celebrated.
Edenlegaia
4 / 5 (4) May 30, 2016
Well, Sweden doesn't send as many men into war as they did centuries ago, soooo....
JongDan
3.4 / 5 (5) May 30, 2016
Well, Sweden doesn't send as many men into war as they did centuries ago, soooo....

Sweden also "skipped" both World Wars.
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
3.4 / 5 (5) May 30, 2016
I think the political debate has come further abroad than here in Sweden, which is known for having a few broad debates at a time. (But that is changing too.)

So I did know about the change, but not that "Statistics officials say Sweden's demographic shift is mainly due to men catching up with women in terms of life expectancy."

If that is behind the changed balance, it is likely the great difference in smoking rates has been catching up with women. That too will likely come down as smoking is coming down.

As will unfortunately the migrant men overshot as they have a difficult time behind, and will not recuperate all of the relatively extended lifetime in Sweden. Also getting asylum means trying to get the whole family reunited from the West Asian refugee camps.

@JongDan: We had clever parents!
Otto_Szucks
1.4 / 5 (10) May 30, 2016
"Researchers don't have a clear idea of what happens to a society when the population becomes more masculine."

Obviously, the women will have a better opportunity to carefully pick and choose the best possible candidate(s) to father their children. Even the less attractive women may find that they are in demand, if they are attractive in "other" ways.
With the influx of men from the Middle East and Africa, Scandinavian and Germanic women may find their male counterparts even more attractive, not just as mates, but also as their protectors.

In some past cultures, women were expected to have more than one husband, and the practice was thought of as perfectly normal. It is doubtful that European women would resort to that practice, but it would be interesting to see.
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
3.3 / 5 (7) May 30, 2016
So, the unavoidable racists.

@Ultron: I am sure the statisticians will support your unfounded equation the day the statistics say it is so.

But so far immigrants have no higher criminal frequencies than the rest of the population. If they live in well to do neighborhoods the rates match that, if they live in poorer neighborhoods it matches that.

[There is an analysis to do about increased segregation, but that started before the asylum seekers got here.]

[tbctd]
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
3.2 / 5 (9) May 30, 2016
[ctd]

@MV: You must be joking, like Minitron above! The asylum seekers amounts to 2 % of the population. While we have had work immigration for a century. They now amount to 20 % of the population. The worker migrants either don't make much effect or have assimilated, in either case they drown out the small spike in war refugees.

Small indeed, I saw a UK economist claim that the refugees into EU will match the earlier decade of migration so it makes little sense to shut them out for being many. In fact, it has been projected yet again this week that they will give a doubled return on the initial cost - and Sweden enjoys a better economy than in many years with 4 % economy expansion.

And of course OS is just trolling as usual. When did Swedish women need _protection_? Our reigning arm wrestling champion will punch the living daylights out of OS for his language, and then go and put some new nail polish on her nails.
Ultron
2.5 / 5 (11) May 30, 2016
@torbjorn

Are you really that stupid that you dont see the correlation of increase of rapes in Sweden and the increase of muslim immigrants?

Two reports from the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (BRÅ) are relevant to the rate of rape among immigrants to Sweden and their descendants. The latest published report that indicates the association between immigrants and rape was published in 2005 and revealed that from 1997 to 2001 foreign born individuals were 5.5 times more likely to be charged of rape than individuals born in Sweden to two Swedish parents and that foreign born individuals from all regions, apart from East Asia, committed sexual assaults at rates up to 5.3 times greater than that of individuals born in Sweden to two Swedish parents.[36]
Otto_Szucks
1.6 / 5 (7) May 30, 2016
[ctd]

@MV: You must be joking, like Minitron above! The asylum seekers amounts to 2 % of the population. While we have had work immigration for a century. They now amount to 20 % of the population. The worker migrants either don't make much effect or have assimilated(..)
Small indeed, I saw a UK economist claim that the refugees into EU will match the earlier decade of migration so it makes little sense to shut them out for being many. In fact(..)
And of course OS is just trolling as usual. When did Swedish women need _protection_? Our reigning arm wrestling champion will punch the living daylights out of OS for his language, and then go and put some new nail polish on her nails.
- tornbjorn

Aha...so your female wrestling champ is either a butch-lesbian or a bisexual who wears nail polish. Small wonder that the birth rate in Sweden is so small that Middle Easterners will overcome little Sweden in no time. Say goodbye to blue eyes and blonde hair - not that it matters.
Otto_Szucks
1.9 / 5 (9) May 30, 2016
@torbjorn

Are you really that stupid that you dont see the correlation of increase of rapes in Sweden and the increase of muslim immigrants?

Two reports from the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (BRÅ) are relevant to the rate of rape among immigrants to Sweden and their descendants. The latest published report that indicates the association between immigrants and rape was published in 2005 and revealed that from 1997 to 2001 foreign born individuals were 5.5 times more likely to be charged of rape than individuals born in Sweden to two Swedish parents and that foreign born individuals from all regions, apart from East Asia, committed sexual assaults at rates up to 5.3 times greater than that of individuals born in Sweden to two Swedish parents.[36]
- Ultron

Torbjorn likes the idea of Swedish women getting raped by Middle Eastern men. That leaves that much more Swedish men for Tornbjorn.
MrData
3.3 / 5 (7) May 31, 2016
The outcome is likely to be a lot of sexually frustrated male muslim migrants who don't share the "equality of the sexes" attitude and take matters into their own hands - literally.
kochevnik
2.7 / 5 (7) May 31, 2016
From zerohedge: "How did peaceful Sweden go from being a quiet, low-crime country to being the country with the second-highest incidence of rape in the world? Why has Sweden experienced a 1,472% increase in the annual number of rapes?"

Seems Swedes not content with #2 position in rape competition
Sheik_Yerbuti
May 31, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Sheik_Yerbuti
May 31, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
OdinsAcolyte
not rated yet May 31, 2016
This happens in times of war.
That is what I heard. Is it true?
Could be...
JongDan
1 / 5 (2) Jun 03, 2016
Every religion is dominated by stupid people that make everything pretty rough for the spiritual ones. You don't know 1/10 of what goes on in the stupid Muslim's mind.

The problem with Islam is that it's written in a way that allows stupid people to do all kinds of f** up shit and still have an excuse for it. You see, you really shouldn't compare the best kind of people when arguing why something isn't bad, you should compare the worst kind of people that still follow the rules. National socialism would be great too, if everyone lived in homogeneous communities and helped each other to build a better future, but it isn't.
AGreatWhopper
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 06, 2016
Goes double for xtianity.

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