Sweden Has More Men Than Women for the First Time in Recorded History, Because Europe Has Suddenly Changed a Lot

Photo: Werner Nystrand

One of the weird quirks of human populations is that, naturally, more boys are born than girls. Yet depending on the country, the ratio between genders can be skewed by history and culture. In Russia, a 20th century full of war and a 21st century full of drinking means that there are now 86.8 men per 100 women. Government sanctions and a preference for sons can stymie a female population, too: In China, there are 106.3 men for every 100 women, and in India it’s 107.6.

Which makes the news coming out of Sweden, that petri dish of Nordic socialism, so very interesting. Quite unexpectedly, the country all of a sudden has more men than women, the Associated Press reports. It’s the first time that’s happened since the country started keeping such records, way back in 1749. The gap opened in March 2015 at 277 more men than women, and now it’s over 12,000 — a more than 4,000 percent increase. It’s a sign of things to come, the AP reports: Norway hit a male surplus five years ago, and it’s slated to happen in Britain by 2050.

Two big trends are at work here: one regarding where people live, the other how they live. As is reflected by Stockholm’s ever-more-insane housing crisis, tons and tons of people are moving to Sweden. Conflict and instability across Afghanistan, Syria, and North Africa are sending teenage boys to Sweden; the AP reports that 35,000 unaccompanied male minors arrived in Sweden last year. There’s also the fact that men are living longer in developed countries than they ever have before.

Nordic countries have the smallest gaps between gender life expectancy in the world. In Sweden, the life expectancy for a male baby born today is just 3.4 years behind that of his female counterpart, second-best behind Iceland’s 3. That’s because — unlike, say, Russia — Swedish guys aren’t getting shot during war or dying in coal mines like their forebears did; and the Swedes as a people drink way less than people in any other European country save for Norway.

Social scientists aren’t quite sure about how the increase in men, especially young men, will affect Sweden. Some demographers the AP talked to are concerned that the increase in bros could turn the ultraprogressive country “hypermasculine,” while others say that’s only a problem if masculinity were to show up in traits like aggression and men-centric hierarchy. Unlike in China and India, where women are still often second-class citizens, men and women in Sweden are very much on equal footing. So even as guys live longer and show up in droves, Sweden won’t become a place that abruptly abolishes its world-leading parental-leave policy. But that doesn’t mean finding an apartment is going to get any easier.

Sweden Has More Men Than Women for the First Time