Increasing class differences in Swedes’ holiday habits


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In the wake of the financial crisis, the difference between how blue-collar workers and white-collar workers spend their holidays is now bigger than it has been for a very long time. Almost every third blue-collar worker (32 per cent) has neither gone away on holiday nor has access to a holiday cottage. Among white-collar workers, the corresponding figure is 15 per cent. These facts are presented in the LO report on Swedes’ holiday habits 2010.
The proportion of blue-collar workers who have neither gone away on holiday nor have access to a holiday cottage increased considerably during the recent years. Between 2008 and 2010, this proportion grew by 4 per cent, from 28 to 32 per cent. Such a significant increase has not been observed since the early 1990s, when the labour market crisis was at its height.

It is totally absurd that the class society is still so apparent in Sweden today, both as regards work and spare time. Holiday should be an opportunity to take a rest from work, which should be provided equally for all. It is unacceptable that blue-collar workers with extremely heavy, stressful and precarious jobs do not have the possibility of going away on holiday, says LO President Wanja Lundby-Wedin.

The primary reason for the increase in recent years is probably the so-called financial crisis that began in the autumn of 2007, leading to rapidly growing unemployment, especially among blue-collar workers. This has in its turn contributed to the fact that the percentage of blue-collar workers who have neither taken a holiday trip nor have access to a holiday cottage has reached its highest level in a long time.

White-collar workers have, on the contrary, got off lightly in the financial crisis, both as regards unemployment and holiday habits. The proportion of white-collar workers who have neither gone away on holiday nor have access to a holiday cottage increased from 14 to 15 per cent between 2008 and 2009, but in 2010 it dropped again to under 15 per cent.

A larger proportion of women than men have neither gone away on holiday nor have access to a holiday cottage. Among blue-collar workers, it is 33 per cent of women and 30 per cent of men. The corresponding figures for white-collar workers are 17 per cent of women and 12 per cent of men. This situation can most likely be explained by the fact that women on average have lower income than men. Usually, women earn 5,000 SEK less a month than men.

These figures also reflect the fact that many children of blue-collar workers do not have the possibility of going away on holiday. Most vulnerable are children of single parents. In a welfare society, all children should be able to come back to school and joyfully tell stories about their summer holidays, says LO President Wanja Lundby-Wedin.