For many a LundaEkonom, the site ekonomifakta.se is an invaluable source of easily accessible statistics and explanations of economic phenomena. Its to-the-point presentation of data from SCB, OECD and Eurostat (among other sources) makes it an excellent provider of facts not just for aspiring economists, but also for laymen. We took an interest in the people behind the project and decided to learn more.
The site was founded on commission of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (or Svenskt Näringsliv in Swedish), the employer’s organization for private sector companies in Sweden. The goal as stated on the website is to inspire conversation about Sweden’s opportunities and challenges, and to provide a tool for those looking for knowledge on economics and enterprise in Sweden. We interviewed Fredrik Carlgren, the head of the organization.
I believe many business and economics students in Sweden have at some point used ekonomifakta as a source. When was ekonomifakta started, and what was the idea behind it?
– The site was started in 2006 by the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise and the purpose then as now was to spread information on the Swedish economy. The thought behind was very simple – the debate improves if it’s based on fact. The problem isn’t really that data and facts are missing. In Sweden, heaps of statistics are produced, and the same is of course true for other countries. The challenge is often to find what you’re looking for in this large range, and in that regard we can hopefully help.
How is ekonomifakta organized?
– We are three people working fulltime on this project. Additionally, we are helped by students around the country for separate projects.
What backgrounds do the people working at ekonomifakta have?
– We have studied economics with different orientations. I myself focused on macroeconomics, and I also hold a bachelor’s degree in political science. I have worked at ekonomifakta almost since the start, and before that I worked as a consultant writing reports on the business sector among other things.
What is your relation to the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise?
– In an organizational sense, we are part of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise. However, as stated we have a specific assignment – spreading facts on the economy and making statistics on economics more accessible.
What assignments do you have apart from the website?
– Among other things, we have a lecture on how Sweden became a rich country that can be booked by teachers in upper secondary school. Our eminent lecturers study economics with different specializations at different universities around the country. We have also developed other types of school material – for example, we have issued a version of Klas Eklund’s Vår Ekonomi [English: Our Economy] that is especially suited for upper secondary school.
Speaking as an educator, what is your view on the Swedish economic challenges moving forward? Which ones are the most important?
– On the part of Sweden, we of course have a challenge in decreasing the divide in the job market – in particular, making it easier for those with a shorter education to enter the market. Furthermore, we are an open and export dependent economy, meaning we’re greatly affected by what happens abroad. On that point there are clearly challenges ahead. Even if there in Sweden is a broad consensus on the benefits of free trade, there are forces around the world wanting to push development in an opposite direction, and countering this is a challenge for all internationally dependent economies.