5 Stats That Help Explain What’s Really Happening in Sweden

4 minute read

U.S. President Donald Trump was ridiculed by Swedes over the weekend when he suggested the country’s acceptance of immigrants was not working out.

It began at a campaign-style rally in Florida on Saturday when the President suggested an incident in Sweden that did not occur. “You look at what’s happening in Germany. You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden — Sweden — who would believe this?” He said. “Sweden, they took in large numbers, they are having problems like they never thought possible. You look at what’s happening Brussels, you look at what’s happening all over the world.”

Trump said on Sunday that the “last night” was in fact a reference to a Fox News story on rising crime in Sweden committed by refugees, and not a specific act of terror:

The segment, on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, featured filmmaker Ami Horowitz alleging that there has been a surge in rape and gun violence in the Scandinavian country due to the large surge in migrants and refugees.

However, many politicians and people in Sweden have taken issue with the President’s use of Sweden as a case study in the negative effects of taking refugees.

Here are five statistics to help you understand what the real situation is in Sweden:

13.3 percent

The share of people who said they had been exposed to crime in the latest Swedish Crime Survey, in 2015. Although this is indeed a slight increase from 11.3% in 2014, the figure is the same level as a decade before.

Sweden’s crime prevention council found that there has been no significant increase in crimes between 2015 and 2016, the New York Times reports. The council recorded a drop in thefts and drug offences, but did note an uptick in assaults and rapes. The council also noted a rise in lethal violation, but says: “In a long-term perspective, ever since the 1990’s … the trend shows that lethal violence is declining.”


The number of reported rapes in Sweden in 2016, according to publicly available data by Sweden’s crime prevention council, up from 5,920 the year before. There were 6,700 reported rapes in 2014.

The slight rise from 2015 has been attributed to changes in the sexual crimes legislation that is believed to have led to more reported cases of sexual crimes. In general, Sweden has a broader legal definition of rape than many other nations — meaning its reported rape totals are typically higher than average.

In 2015, 18,100 sex offenses were reported to the police, down 11% from 2014, according to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention. These are the most recent figures available.


The number of new asylum seekers in Sweden in 2016, a decline from the year before when nearly 163,000 sought asylum.

The Fox News segment said: “In 2016 alone the country accepted more than 160,000 asylum seekers.” It seems as if they were referring to the year before.

In Germany, over 1.1 million people claimed asylum in 2015.


The share of Swedes who believe “refugees in our country are more to blame for crime than other groups,” according to a survey by the Pew Research Center in early 2016. There’s no data to suggest that is the case.

The Swedish Crime Survey separately found the percentage of people with “great concern about crime in society” had increased 3 points to 25% in 2016 compared to 2015. This number is still lower than the 29% recorded a decade earlier, in 2006. The survey also found that in 2016 people “anxious about being a victim of an attack or assault” had increased 4 points to 15%— the same level as in 2006.

6 years

The length of time since the last terrorist attack on Swedish soil; on Dec. 11, 2010, suicide bomber Taimour Abdulwahab blew himself up in central Stockholm. No one else was injured.

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