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  1. Nils G. Wahlgren
  1. Department of Neurology, Karolinska Hospital, Box 60500, Sweden; E-mail: nils-gunnar.wahlgren{at}


Sweden is one of the largest countries in Europe but has one of the smallest populations – nine million people. Because Sweden did not participate in the Second World War, the economy was better than in most other countries during the 1950s and 1960s. The Social Democratic Party ruled the country for decades and created a welfare system financed by high income taxes. Many families could afford a Volvo or Saab car, a summer cottage and 4 weeks holiday a year. For those less fortunate, the social safety net guaranteed board and lodging, and health care if required. But much has changed since then. Married women used to be housewives, but now the employment rate for women is the highest in Europe at 85%. Sweden used to be ethnically homogenous, today almost 11% of the population were born in another country. Rips in the social safety net have become obvious. Board

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