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In Sweden, the 1970s and 1980s were a period of relatively stable economic growth characterised by very high and increasing rates of employment, reaching 90% for the population aged 25‐54, and very low rates of unemployment, fluctuating at 2‐3%
(OECD, 1996). However, even then inactivity due to worker incapacity was a major labour market issue. Sickness absence was very high with shortterm absence fluctuating significantly (OECD, 2005). Disability benefit recipiency was also
comparatively high and growing, from 5% of the working‐age population in the mid 1970s to 7% in 1990, mostly as a consequence of the increased take‐up by women, though this was partly a byproduct of their rising participation in the labour force.