Sweden: Why So Many Support the Alcohol Retail Monopoly

Support for the alcohol retail monopoly is high and stable in Sweden. There are many reasons why so many Swedes hold this opinion.

The Swedish alcohol retail monopoly ‘Systembolaget’ is the only store which can legally sell alcohol over 3.5% alcohol content, in the country.

For three consecutive years Systembolaget has been ranking at first for public trust according to the Public Trust Barometer.

Sweden: Systembolaget Ranks Highest For Public Trust

Policies which restrict alcohol availability and affordability such as the alcohol retail monopoly help to reduce and keep alcohol consumption and harm low. But such measures also need public support to continue and expand in democratic countries.

The Swedish people support both Systembolaget as well as the idea of increasing alcohol taxes for two main reasons, according to studies based on the SOM surveys at the University of Gothenburg:

  1. Self interest: The studies found people who consume less alcohol are more positive to alcohol restrictions while frequent alcohol users tend to think otherwise. This shows the self interest aspect of supporting public health policy.
  2. Solidarity: For Swedes self interest takes a backseat when considering solidarity with other Swedes. It is people’s recognition of the effects of alcohol in society at large that explains their views on alcohol policy, to a greater extent than their own experiences and self-interests. There is a widespread ideological belief that the consequences of alcohol are a societal problem rather than an individual responsibility.

Public health experts say it is not certain restrictions on alcohol will be supported always in Sweden as public opinion on alcohol has changed previously as well. Experts underline the importance of investing in strengthening solidarity norms and to remind people of the harmful effects of alcohol in society to continue and to expand the support for the Swedish alcohol control model.

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More about the SOM Institute

The SOM (Society, Opinion, Media) Institute is an independent survey research organisation at the University of Gothenburg. The Institute collaborates with researchers from a range of disciplines, aiming to explore Swedes’ attitudes and habits in a range of areas and to understand the evolution of the Swedish society.

The SOM Institute has always focused on Swedes’ habits, behaviour, opinions and values with respect to society, politics and media.

The large number of surveys and vast amount of collected data provide exceptional opportunities to carry out cross-disciplinary longitudinal analyses at the national, regional and local levels. The unique amount of data has made the SOM Institute a national research centre for researchers interested in empirical studies of society, opinions and media. The institute has also developed international collaborations with researchers in other parts of the world.