What’s the Matter with Sweden?

I was quite amazed by this graph, which I saw on Swivel today. The graph implies that there has been a very considerable increase in the number of crimes over the last sixty years of Swedish history.

The increase was so great that I was skeptical at first. “The population of Sweden,” I thought, “must surely have risen during the last sixty years, but this graph does not indicate that it is the number of crimes per capita. If the population has grown by a factor of four during the past sixty years, a constant crime rate per person would explain this data.” I therefore set upon finding data for myself to test this question. I found population data here and crime data here. Using these, I came up with my own graph, showing the total number of reported crimes per capita in Sweden since 1950. You can see it below.


This graph implies that the crime rate really has grown considerably over the last sixty years in Sweden. I knew this conclusion was going to be forced upon me after I saw the population data for Sweden for the period in question. In 1950, the population of Sweden was 7,041,829; in 2007, it was 9,182,927. The population has therefore only grown by 130% during the last sixty years, while the crime rate has grown by a factor of 669% absolutely and by a factor of 513% per person.

So, I have to ask: “what’s the matter with Sweden?”