Episode 3 – Tell me your neighbourhood and I’ll tell you who you are

The Nordic Countries are known for high living costs, especially when it comes to housing. But what are the impacts of high rents and a shortage of housing in the big cities of the North? In this episode, we have a closer look at social exclusion due to housing in Denmark and Sweden. But what does social exclusion mean and how is it connected to the neighbourhood you are living in? Join us in our new episode where we tackle these and many more questions surrounding housing segregation in the Nordic Countries.

listen to our Podcast:

Main PointS

Average rent prices in the capitals (for an average studio apartment) [1]

Helsinki:  800–1,100 € 

Copenhagen:  8,000 to 10,000 DKK

Oslo: 14,100 NOK

Stockholm: 8.000-12.000SEK

Stockholm is considered for the world record for the longest housing queue with average of 9 years up to 20 years in most popular areas.[2]

The Governance Crisis in Sweden, Summer 2021 [3]

In the summer, Löfven (the Swedish president) lost a vote of no-confidence called by the Left Party after a proposal to introduce unregulated rents in newly built properties.  He was actually the first Swedish Prime Minister ever who lost a no-confidence vote, but was then re-elected again to just say he would resign a month later.
Why did the left party do so? At the moment, Sweden’s housing market is currently strictly regulated, with municipal and state-regulated rental companies prevented from charging tenants above a certain price level. But the Left party worried it is the first step towards rolling out market rents for all apartments, and will lead to higher rents.

The issue of social exclusion [4]

Strong research support: Housing market segmentation leads to social and ethnic segregation.

History of social segregation due to housing in Sweden the Milijonprogrammet [6]

Housing program “miljonprogrammet” between 1963-72 was intended to eliminate the housing shortages which were due to a population growth in the big cities. 

Individual vs. Structural perceptions on Social Exclusion [6]

Nazem Tahvildzadeh: The issue is that The general picture is that inequality is due to people’s individual choices or that you live in certain residential areas.

Police are currently the leading authority in how the problem is understood, it also means that vulnerability is defined based on their logic. 

Covid Vaccination Example in Malmö [7]

In Malmö we can see social segregation by looking at the Covid Vaccination Rates last May (when there were still not enough vaccines available): of the 70+ living in Limhamn 93% were vaccinated and only 65% in Rosengard.

The Somali Minority in Sweden during the first wave of Covid-19 [8]

Out of the first fifteen reported Covid-19 deaths in Sweden, nine were from the Somali community

Number of Covid-19 Infections in Stockholm by neighbourhood [9]

During the First and Second Wave in Stockholm, in the outskirt districts, infection rates were twice or even triple as high as in the wealthier districts.

Gun Violence in Sweden [10]

In 2018, Sweden had the highest number of death related to gun violence in the EU

Social Exclusion and School Funding [11]

After having to change schools, kids from Rosengard did significantly better in school as before.

Danish Ghetto Package [12]

In Dec 2017, the Danish Government classified 22 of their housing projects as ghettos. Ghettos were defined as neighbourhoods that met at least 3 of 5 conditions: 

  • Unemployment rate exceeds 40%
  • More than 50% of non-western residents in neighbourhood
  • Number of residents over 18 with criminal violations exceeded 2.7%
  • More than 50% of residents between ages 30-59 without a basic education
  • Average gross income for taxpayers aged 18-64 is less than 55% of regional average. 

March 2018, Denmark announced the “One Denmark without Parallel Societies: No Ghettos in 2030”. An increased number of areas are now covered by the legislation and it included a requirement to reduce the percentage of residents from a non-Western background to a maximum of 30% [13]

Criticism from EU [14]

The European Convention on Human Rights prohibits discrimination on any ground where other rights such as the right to respect for home are involved. Pre-school children must spend at least 25 hours per week in state kindergartens with a maximum migrant intake of 30% and undertake language tests. Otherwise family benefits can be revoked.

Relocation of Non-Western Immigrants [15]

“Current tenants (2020) will be offered alternative accommodation, but no control over its location, quality or cost. Those who refuse can now simply be evicted. Adding insult to injury, the eviction and renovation plans will be paid for from proceeds from a fund paid into by public housing tenants themselves.”


  1. https://www.statista.com/statistics/503274/average-rental-cost-apartment-europe/ 
  2. https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20160517-this-is-one-city-where-youll-never-find-a-home
  3. https://www.thelocal.se/20210621/sweden-stefan-lofven-loses-no-confidence-motion/
  4. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Hans-Andersen-2 
  5. https://www.fes.de/en/displacement-migration-integration/article-page-flight-migration-integration/wohnungsbau-motor-der-segregation-in-schweden
  6. https://www.forskning.se/2021/03/25/svensk-coronastrategi-kan-leda-till-okad-segregation/#
  7. https://www.svt.se/nyheter/lokalt/skane/har-ar-vaccinationsviljan-hogst-och-last-i-malmo
  8. https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/coronavirus-can-sweden-do-more-to-protect-the-somali-community-37227
  9. https://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/contentassets/53c0dc391be54f5d959ead9131edb771/infection-fatality-rate-covid-19-stockholm-technical-report.pdf
  10. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/26/fatal-shootings-have-risen-in-sweden-despite-fall-across-europe-report-finds
  11. https://socialeurope.eu/a-cautionary-tale-to-be-had-from-swedish-school-reforms
  12. https://www.oslomet.no/en/research/featured-research/scandinavian-countries-address-urban-segregation-differently
  13. https://www.justiceinitiative.org/newsroom/denmarks-plan-to-rebrand-its-racist-ghetto-package-will-cause-more-housing-evictions
  14. https://www.justiceinitiative.org/newsroom/denmarks-plan-to-rebrand-its-racist-ghetto-package-will-cause-more-housing-evictions
  15. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/11/how-denmarks-ghetto-list-is-ripping-apart-migrant-communities

Other Episodes

Episode 6 – Who let the pigs out in Denmark?

In this month’s episode we talk about organic food production in Denmark. The country has the highest market share of organic food and an ambitious national organic food strategy to go along with it. At the same time, Denmark is also one of the biggest pork exporters worldwide and the companies in the business show no intention of scaling back anytime soon. In this episode, we explore how organic Denmark really is and dive into the topic of plant-based food.

Keep reading

Episode 5 – Healthcare in Kry-sis?

In this episode, we discuss the history of Malmö, its connection to Denmark and its transformation into an innovative and sustainable city. We also talk about our perceptions of the city and our experiences from our time there, including the ‘controversy’ surrounding Malmo-born Zlatan Ibrahimović and our love for falafel.

Keep reading

Find us on our Social media channels