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.

reported_crimes_per_capita.png

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?”