Per-Erik Muskos, a 42-year-old local council member for Övertorneå in northern Sweden, proposed this week that Swedes should take a one-hour paid break from work to go home and have sex with their partners.
Muskos expressed concern about couples who do not have enough time together, and noted that “studies” show that sex is healthy. “It’s about having better relationships,” the AFP reported him saying. In the Swedish press, he emphasized the wellness benefits, which he said would be enjoyed by both single and coupled people.
That a small-town Swedish politician would encourage sex-breaks is not hugely surprising. In the work-life balance equation, Swedes clearly value life: two or three times a day, it’s common to have fika, or coffee breaks, to help them disconnect, recharge and eat sweets. The country boasts 480 days of paid parental leave which can be shared between parents, and it has experimented with a six-hour work day (for which employees are paid for eight).
What is remarkable is that Muskos sees the logical time slot for the health-driven sex as being during the work day. Swedes already enjoy a relatively easy work schedule —an average of 1612 hours per year, according to the OECD, 9% percent less than the OECD average. And it does not appear that they are burning the midnight oil working late: only 1% of Swedes work overtime, according to the OECD Better Life Index.
All of which makes it surprising that if couples need time to reconnect, that time should come from hours in the office, rather than all those hours before and after work (Övertorneå has a population of 2,000: this is hardly a national rallying cry).
One thing is clear: Sweden’s many lifestyle benefits don’t seem to be ruining its economy, as many in the US would like to think. The European Union estimates that the Swedish economy will grow at 2.4% this year, down from 3.3% in 2016 but stronger than the EU-wide estimate of 1.6% (and a smidge higher than the IMF’s estimate of US growth of 2.3%, where workers do not enjoy fika, paid parental leave or sex-breaks). Mandated sex-breaks may be just what Sweden needs to regain its mojo.