This Statista bar chart has been suggesting for months that the all-cause death rate in Sweden for 2020, a year in which the country gave the finger to the deadliest virus within the memory of Humankind, will be lower than the death rate in 2010, an unremarkable year from a disease point of view.
90,487 residents of Sweden died in 2010, when the population was 9.34 million (Google). The population today is 10.4 million (Statistics Sweden, a government agency).
The 2010 death rate applied to the 2020 population would be consistent with approximately 100,750 deaths.
The Statistics Sweden folks make fine-grained death data available for download. The latest iteration, released today, shows 95,022 deaths for all of 2020. However, it seems that the data are incomplete starting on December 21. If we normalize Dec 21-31 with averages from 2015-2019, we would expect Sweden to experience an additional 1,846 deaths in 2020, for a total of 96,868 (i.e., well below the 100,750 who would have died if the 2010 death rate occurred).
[Update: The January 18, 2021 version of the spreadsheet shows 97,941 deaths for all of 2020. More than the above guess, but still occurring at a lower rate than in 2010. It seems that the 2022 versions of the big official spreadsheet describe 98,124 deaths (sum Column G in Table 1), which is still a lower number than the 2010 death rate applied to the 2020 Swedish population size (as noted above, the result would have been 100,750.).]
It will be worth checking back in a couple of weeks for the near-final 2020 number. (The Swedes will publish their final number for 2020 on February 22, 2021, seven weeks after the end of 2020. Their U.S. counterparts at the CDC, published their final numbers for 2018 in January 2020, 13 months after the end of 2018.)
Summary: the Swedes sent their unmasked children to school, sent their unmasked selves to work, sent their unmasked selves to the gym and social events, and generally went right into November before losing their nerve (adopting masks on public transport and cutting “public events” (not private house parties) back to 8 people max). They’ve emerged from what in most countries was the Year of Coronapanic with their psyches, civil liberties (freedom to gather, freedom to travel), education, and work skills intact. They’ve suffered more deaths than in some previous years (but maybe partly this was due to having fewer-than-expected deaths in the most recent years), but have had a lower death rate than they had in 2010 and they’re not even on the first page of countries ranked by COVID-19-tagged death rate.
(What does a moderately northern place with a big city look like when the Church of Shutdown is worshipped and the Ritual of the Mask is observed? The Maskachusetts COVID-19 death rate per 100,000 people is 182 (CDC). Sweden’s rate is 86.)
Separately, for those who are interested in questions of government efficiency, particularly in a declared time of crisis/emergency .. I sent a question to the Statistics Sweden public email address using the World’s Greatest Language (i.e., not Swedish). It was the middle of the night there. I received an English-language answer at 9:47 am Swedish time the next day, also in the world’s greatest language. The answer, from Tova Holm, addressed the apparent discrepancy between the Statista numbers and the spreadsheet numbers (Statista’s chart was correct, but based on an earlier version of the spreadsheet), pointed me to specific sheets within the Excel file, etc.
Readers: If you emailed a U.S. government agency with a random question, how long would you expect to wait before receiving an answer? (Probably not worth asking what would happen if we turned the languages around and queried the U.S. government in Swedish!)