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Bild makes the claims. [Google translated below]

Schweden ist heute das gefährlichste Land in Europa.

[Sweden is the most dangerous country in Europe today.]

In der EU werden durchschnittlich acht Personen pro Million Einwohnern Opfer tödlicher Gewalt. In Schweden lag die Zahl 2020 bei zwölf Personen pro Million Einwohnern.

[In the EU, an average of eight people per million people are victims of fatal violence. In Sweden, the number in 2020 was twelve people per million inhabitants.]

In der EU sterben durchschnittlich 1,6 Personen pro Million Einwohnern an Schussverletzungen – in Schweden sind es vier Personen, also fast dreimal so viele.

In the EU, an average of 1.6 people per million people die from gunshot wounds - in Sweden the figure is four, almost three times as many.

While the headline says 'Europe' it's clear from the article that this refers to the EU.

The source mentions 'study', but does not specify which study this is or who conducted it. My best estimate could be ones mentioned in Wikipedia (citations 2 and 16). However, these are in Swedish, about 6 months old and unknown sources to me. Thus I remain skeptical.

Edit:

Is the claim 'Sweden is the most dangerous country in Europe [EU] today' accurate?

It's pointed out that question might be understood in too wide context. Revisited question:

Is the claim 'Sweden is the most dangerous country in Europe [EU] today [when it comes to violent crime]' accurate?

6
  • 1
    Probably somewhat related skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/31153/…
    – Fizz
    Oct 29 at 13:40
  • 1
    Deleted pseudo-answers in comments. When you are ready to answer properly, please use the answer box.
    – Oddthinking
    Oct 30 at 20:06
  • I know the title says "most dangerous" but is the claim limited to violent crime? (And not traffic accidents, venomous animals, food poisoning, COVID-19, iatrogenic illness, etc.) If so, can we please limit the question?
    – Oddthinking
    Oct 30 at 20:08
  • @Oddthinking Sure.
    – pinegulf
    Nov 1 at 8:59
  • Maybe they have better police and fewer undetected crimes?
    – gnasher729
    Nov 1 at 9:25
12

The overall claim is most likely false

I am unable to find a complete data set for 2020, but data for 2018/2019 (Eurostat) indicates that if the claim is true it represents a dramatic shift from previous years:

Graph of EU homocide data for 2018/2019, shows Sweden midtable

Sweden appears to be solidly mid-table in this dataset, higher than the EU average, but much lower than countries such as Latvia and Lithuania, and below even Western European countries such as France and Belgium.

But 2020 was a very strange year.

Although it's possible that the impact of the pandemic in 2020, and the accompanying lockdowns and restrictions†, may have had a dramatic impact on homicide figures across the continent, the fact that the EU average reported by Bild and that given in the 2019 dataset are similar suggests this is unlikely and data direct from Sweden's national council for crime prevention, Brå, shows only a modest increase in "Lethal violence" between 2019 and 2020.

The figures on Gun violence are accurate

The numbers quoted figures for gun homicide in Sweden and Europe appear in the Brå report on Gun homicide in Sweden and other European countries (.pdf, in English) and so are likely correct. Although the Bild source specifies EU and the report says "European countries" for the 1.6 deaths/million figure. The report does not include figures for all European countries and I have been unable to locate them, so it is unclear whether this is the highest in the EU. Although it does note that the pattern of increased gun deaths seen in Sweden has not occurred elsewhere (top of p. 5).

Does this make Sweden the most dangerous country in the EU?

Although Sweden has recently seen a surge in gun deaths, it's notable that this surge is "almost exclusively restricted" (source as above) to the 20-29 age group, and to men rather than women. These deaths, moreover, are restricted to a small part of the demographic, described in the report as a "criminal milieux in socially disadvantaged areas", or to put in another way: they're drug-related violence (see Gerell et al, 2021) and people outside of those activities and those areas are not experiencing a similar rise in crime, and thus no rise in personal danger when within Sweden.


†Despite popular perception, Sweden also introduced many Coronavirus related restrictions.

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  • 1
    Sweden has less pandemic "lockdown" than many EU countries. It might simply be that in 2020 crime went down more in those. IIRC violent crime went down a lot in NYC during their lockdown. marketwatch.com/story/…
    – Fizz
    Nov 2 at 11:44
  • @Fizz, as per the link I gave: Sweden has had a lot of restrictions through the pandemic. As for other countries falling a lot, that seems possible, but it seems highly unlikely it wouldn't also lower the EU wide average if they did. Nov 2 at 19:01

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