Proposal is Pending in Swedish Town: Per-Erik Muskos, a 42-year-old councilman from the small northern municipality of Övertorneå, Sweden (Right on the Arctic Circle, it has an estimated population of just under 2,000) last week proposed offering the town’s employees the right to subsidized sex. In introducing his proposal, he suggested to his fellow council members that the move might provide a way to increase the shrinking population, add spice to aging marriages and improve employee morale.
According to a report by the New York Times news service, Muskos pointed out that “sex is also a great form of exercise and has documented positive effects on well-being.” Municipal employees could use an hour of the workweek already allotted for fitness activities to go home and have sex with their spouses or partners instead. The motion, which is expected to be voted on in the spring, needs a simple majority to be passed by the 31-member council. As of now, opinion on the council is divided.
“We should encourage procreation. I believe that sex is often in short supply. Everyday life is stressful and the children are at home,” Muskos explained in making his motion in Overtornea. “This could be an opportunity for couples to have their own time, only for each other.”
When Muskos introduced the motion Feb. 20, some council members snickered and chuckled while others said they were not amused. One council member, Tomas Vedestig, 42, said that when Muskos explained his proposal, his colleagues were so taken aback that they thought they had misheard him. Vedestig said the proposal was intrusive and threatened to embarrass people who do not have sexual partners; do not want to have sex; or had medical conditions that precluded sex.
Said Vedestig: “I don’t think it’s the employer’s business to to say ‘go home for an hour and make babies,'” he said. And some proponents worried the proposal was too stingy: “I spoke to a couple of older gentlemen who said, ‘One hour? That is not enough time.'”
Muskos told colleagues the proposal was no joke, though he acknowledged practical problems like enforcement. It would be difficult to tell, for example, if an employee eschewed sex in favor of a walk in the country.
Lower Birthrates = Fewer Worker Replacements, Fewer Travelers: The proposal comes as countries across Europe are grappling with how to balance the rigors of modernity and work with the desire for better quality of life. In France, which already has a mandatory 35-hour workweek, subsidized health care and long vacations, the government recently passed legislation granting employees the “right to disconnect.” The measure calls for companies with more than 50 employees to help ensure that work does not intrude into days off.
Demographic pressures and declining birthrates have been a concern in countries across Europe, including Spain, Italy and Germany. (In 2015, Germany passed Japan among the world’s developed nations as the country with the lowest birth rate.) The principal reason that concerns economists is that nations with birthrates as low as German, Japan and others are not giving birth to enough babies to replace retiring workers.
Low birthrates along with the increasing aging of populations also mean a decline in the numbers of people in the prime age for travelers—21-to-54. Two years ago officials in became so concerned about the birthrate that they started to offer sex education classes focused on procreation rather than contraception. The Spies travel agency in Denmark—it is a Thomas Cook brand—even introduced a “Do It for Denmark!” campaign, encouraging couples to take romantic vacations to try to procreate, claiming that Danes had 46 percent more sex while on vacation. To see a video promoting the campaign, click on the following link.
Malin Hansson, 41, a sexologist and specialist in reproductive health in Gothenburg, expressed her support for the initiative, arguing that sex reduced stress, improved sleep and strengthened immunity, while enriching intimacy between couples. “If it was up to me, I would introduce this across the country,” she said, adding: “In Sweden, sex is considered just another activity.”