Foto: Lo Birgersson

What is Equal Gothenburg?

The City of Gothenburg budget includes the aim “Gothenburg will be an equal city”. Whilst the aims of equality and social sustainability have been included in the city budget for a long time, with effect from 2016 they will be combined into one single aim.

“Equal Gothenburg” is the name given to the long-term initiative linked to the ambition of Gothenburg becoming an equal city.  The process involves reducing disparities in living conditions and health in Gothenburg and ensuring that the city develops in a way that is socially sustainable.

There is a strong commitment in Gothenburg to create a more equal city. There is also widespread involvement by the private sector and civil society.

Why does Gothenburg need to become more equal?

The more people who prosper, the more can contribute to building a sustainable and fair society. That is why equal societies work better. Research shows that less inequity in living conditions and health will lead to a greater sense of cohesion, trust and participation throughout the city.

Fundamentally, it is a question of human rights. An equal city does not mean that everyone is equal. It means an equal opportunity to enjoy good health and lead a good life regardless of your parents' level of education, your income or where you happen to live.

Why should Gothenburg become more equal?

Working for equity is a good investment. Apart from the fact that people have a better life, it costs considerably less to prevent poor health compared to dealing with its consequences.  An efficient, socially sustainable society creates good conditions for establishing and developing trade, industry and enterprise.

The obligation to work towards bringing about social sustainability is laid down in law in several areas. The Instrument of Government (part of the Constitution) states:
“The personal, economic and cultural welfare of the individual shall be the fundamental goal of public institutions. (…) Public institutions shall also encourage everyone to participate in society on an equal footing, and ensure that the rights of the child are safeguarded.”

Equity in Gothenburg

For most people, Gothenburg is a good city to grow up and live in. But there are significant disparities in living conditions and health between different groups and in different areas and the gap is widening.  The average income, for example, has risen in most areas, but has fallen in those areas that had the lowest average income from the outset.

Generally, those with a high income and a longer period of formal education have better living conditions and are in better health than those with a shorter period of formal education and a low income.

The differences affect the whole city. It is not only individual areas or groups that are affected by problems related to segregation. It is a question of how areas and groups compare with each other.

Equity in Gothenburg in numbers

  • The difference in average life expectancy between different areas is 7.5 years for women and 9.1 years for men.  
  • In certain areas of the city, 60 per cent of households are under financial strain. In other areas, the figure is 2 per cent.
  • 19 per cent of households with children are at risk of poverty.
  • In some areas, 50 per cent of people state that they do not trust other people. In other areas, the figure is only 11 per cent.
  • Among the adult population in Gothenburg, 18 per cent of those with a low level of education feel socially isolated, whilst the figure for those with a high level of education is just 2 per cent.
  • 93 per cent of children of parents with a high level of education qualify for vocational upper secondary school programmes, whilst only 49 percent of children of parents with a low level of education qualify.

How we make Gothenburg equal                  

The focus is on health promotion and implementing initiatives early on in a child’s life. Initiatives are implemented broadly and to the benefit of everyone although with an emphasis on those with greatest needs.

The task of creating an equal city is being pursued simultaneously on several levels and in different areas. The initiatives are centred on five focal areas and are evidence based.

Equality work in Gothenburg is characterised by broad-based participation and a clear allocation of responsibility within the framework of the municipal organisation.

We need to be patient and work systematically. Working to bring about equality is a long-term effort and it can take several years before we see results.

Five focal areas for an Equal Gothenburg

  1. Give every child a good start in life (0-6 years).
  2. Provide children with good conditions throughout their school years (6-18 years).
  3. Create preconditions for employment.
  4. Create health-promoting and sustainable environments and communities.
  5. Create the structures and stability necessary to pursue initiatives aimed at promoting equity.

Someone has been appointed within each focal area with overall responsibility to take the work forward across the city.

What we are currently working on

Agreements regarding family centres in all the city districts have been finalised. Each district will have at least one family centre and more where there is need. The family centre approach will be reinforced throughout the city.

The city is cooperating with the police to introduce targeted, preventive measures for vulnerable areas. These initiatives will be implemented in the long term and will be based on the focal areas set out within the framework of Equal Gothenburg.

The mobilisation issue Gothenburg - the city where we read to our children is evident in many areas in the city. Several new schemes to promote reading are planned for this year.
Around 60 new arrivals who have been granted a residence permit will take part in various schemes in collaboration with Framtiden and the Parks and Landscape Administration. The participants will be offered Swedish lessons, work experience and vocational training in sectors in which there is a shortage of workers.

The step-by-step model Important Real Jobs, which is being run in partnership with the private sector, has started up as a pilot project in three districts.
Several training programmes have been introduced for city employees and political representatives. These include a more in-depth module at higher education level and a more basic online course.

The social dimension is being applied in construction and planning. New forms of collaboration have been developed together with the city authority, academia and property developers.
A programme for Equal Gothenburg will be devised during the year. Focus Plan 2.0 will be ready in spring 2017.

Cooperation with civil society organisations will be developed in all focal areas.
A new report on success factors for improved school attendance has been published. A plan of action to improve school attendance will be formulated in the spring.

Several assessments and reports are under way, on issues such as:

  • Inequalities in living conditions and health in Gothenburg in 2017
  • Participation and empowerment in order to foster greater trust and confidence
  • How culture and leisure activities will become more accessible to all children
  • Areas in which more health-promoting arenas are needed
  • The level and type of parental support in the city and how it can be developed
  • How more parents can secure jobs
  • How the city can work with social investment and socio economic quantification

Equal Gothenburg in international media

The Guardian july 2017: The new 'people's home': how Sweden is waging war on inequality

Get in touch